Under section 44(1) of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter Act), the Attorney-General is required to cause a review to be made of the first four years of the operation of the Charter Act by 1 October 2011.
In April 2011, the government determined to conduct the review by way of an inquiry by the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee (SARC), and set the terms of reference for that referral. SARC’s final report was tabled in Parliament on 14 September 2011.
On 14 March 2012, the Victorian Government tabled its response to the SARC report. Some of the key elements of the response include:
- The government is strongly committed to the principles of human rights protection and considers that legislative protection for those rights provides a tangible benefit to the Victorian Community.
- The government supports the majority of recommendations by SARC (in whole or in part) to improve and clarify the operation of the Charter Act. These include recommendations to improve parliamentary scrutiny processes under the Charter Act, improve internal complaints processes, clarify the legal status of certain provisions and repeal the Parliamentary override provision.
- In relation to SARC’s majority recommendation relating to the role of courts or tribunals and the obligations of public authorities, the government is seeking further, specific legal advice before responding. The government believes that there is an ongoing place for the courts in protecting rights in relation to the Charter but acknowledges the concerns raised by the SARC majority as to the role of courts and the obligations of public authorities. The issues raised by SARC on these particular questions have generated controversies that are best considered on the basis of clear evidence.
The government's response is available to download below.