Does Australia Need a Bill Of Rights?.
The Australian Constitution does not include a specific section detailing the rights of the individual, although it has existed for over a century through many times when rights have been disregarded. Countries such as France and the United States of America have seen fit to implement a "Bill of Rights" into their constitution, which guarantees the liberties and freedoms of the individual, and reinforces the basic rights of all human beings, where they are compromised. The writers of the Australian Constitution deliberately omitted a Bill Of Rights because they believed it would "undermine some of the discriminatory provisions in place at that time, including those laws which were enacted to the detriment of Aboriginals and Asian immigrants" (Malcolm, 1998). Since that time, values have changed significantly for much of the Australian population, as a result of such things as the 1967 Aboriginal rights referendum and the policy of multiculturalism developed in the 1970's. A Bill of Rights is urgently needed to reinforce decisions made by the Australian court system. For the High Court, whose task it is to interpret the constitution, a Bill Of Rights would act as a basic set of rules on which to form sanctions, and guarantee every citizen an equal opportunity. .
A Bill Of Rights sets out the basic rights of the individual, usually including freedom of speech, press, peaceful association and religion. Every Bill Of Rights is different as they are formed according to the values of the society and country (America's Bill Of Rights famously entitles any individual to the right to "bear arms", or possess a gun), yet it is acknowledged that said principles are the most common. In addition to the USA, Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe have adopted a Bill Of Rights to give every person a basic set of freedoms. Australia is the only Western country to be without a Bill Of Rights, an anomaly for our contemporary, democratic western society that adds increased pressure for us to adopt one.