Media Release: Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today praised both the Federal Government and the Opposition for clearly stating that they would not support a Bill of Rights for Australia.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said he was also encouraged by news reports indicating that the Opposition was distancing itself from the kind of policy position which could lead to a Charter of Rights, similar to those in NSW and the ACT.

“Human rights are important and should be protected but ACL has a number of concerns about the way in which a Bill of Rights or a Charter of Rights could actually serve to undermine existing freedoms rather than safeguarding people’s rights,” Mr Wallace said.

“It is good to see both major parties rejecting the idea of a Bill of Rights in their responses to questions from the Law Council of Australia. It is also pleasing to see Labor apparently putting more distance between itself and a Charter of Rights.

“However this is an issue of concern to many people and we would still like to see Labor make an unequivocal statement that they will not support a Charter of Rights.”

Mr Wallace said ACL is opposed to a Bill of Rights because it would open the door to the excessive use of judicial power by transferring final decision-making from the elected parliament to the courts, thus introducing uncertainty into the meaning and application of the law.

“There is the potential for court judgments made under a Bill of Rights to erode family and Christian values. For example, in America it has been successfully argued that naked dancing in bars is protected by the outer limits of the First Amendment because it is a form of sexual expression,” he said. “There’s also the potential for a Bill of Rights to lead to restrictions on even the discussion or criticism of activities which most Christians find undesirable.”

Mr Wallace said a Bill of Rights can also lead to a self-centred and litigious culture, and be used as a Trojan horse for minority agendas.

“Where real human rights infringements are found, it is far better for governments to address them through passing specific legislation than to enact a catch-all Bill or Charter of Rights,” he said.

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan