Are we really young and free? Our national anthem says so. There is no doubt that we are in fact a young nation. However, are we really free? Human rights are often taken for granted in first world countries such as Australia. What most Australians are unaware of is that, there is no single legally binding piece of legislation which protects their human rights. Australia has sanctioned several international human rights documents; yet, we are the only liberal democracy which does not possess a Federal Human Rights Act or Bill of Rights. Due to this there have been numerous circumstances of violations of our basic rights. If this continues, are we really free?
Were we really free when there were children being treated as adults under the eyes of the law? When Campbell Newman’s government unreasonably and unethically put 17 year olds in adult prisons. Forcing adolescents to grow up too fast and disregarding their rights as children. Teen years are a crucial part in the transition from childhood to adulthood. Cutting these vital years short can be detrimental to the development of adolescents. These laws may have since been overturned, but if we live in a country where this miscarriage of justice is even a possibility, are we really free?
Were we really free when the Queensland government brought in the Vlad laws in 2015? These laws may have been seen as a reasonable way to restrict bikie gangs at the time but they rather impinged on Australian’s human rights. The Vlad Laws violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifically the freedom to move freely within our country, the freedom of expression, and the freedom to assemble. A Bill of Rights would enable judges to use the laws democratically enacted in parliament to regulate fair implications and ensure that our rights are not disregarded. Without legislation to control fair repercussions, are we really free? The bikie laws were not the only instance of which infringed Australian human’s rights.
Were we really free when anti-terrorism laws that were passed, stood to allow the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to detain any Australian citizen without evidence? Dr Mohamed Haneef, an Indian born doctor, was incorrectly accused of assisting terrorists. Dr Haneef was detained and questioned for twelve days without any substantial evidence against him. This investigation cost over $3 million dollars. And guess what? Dr Haneef has since been found completely innocent. This situation was a direct violation of Mohamed Haneef’s human rights and an example of how easy it is to strip someone of their rights in Australia. If our rights can be taken away from us so effortlessly, are we really free?
Moving forward as a nation is dangerous without a human rights document to protect both the rights of the majority and minority. Without a Bill of Rights Australia is vulnerable to abuse of power. Like that of which can be seen in under-developed countries which most Australians don’t distinguish a likeness to. It is this chance of abuse of power which counteracts all the checks and balances put in place to prevent corruption in Australia. Precautions which are designed to form a just, equitable and free community. All of this put in jeopardy without a Bill of Rights. So, I ask you again, without a bill of rights in Australia, are we really free?