Messages from the Front Line: Parliamentarians’ Perspectives on Rights Protection

Carolyn Evans and Simon Evans

in The Legal Protection of Human Rights

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606078
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729720 | DOI:
Messages from the Front Line: Parliamentarians’ Perspectives on Rights Protection

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Drawing on research relating to the Australian Federal Parliament, this chapter examines the argument that the new statutory bills of rights encourage parliaments to play a more significant role in the protection of rights. It identifies a number of constraints on the capacity of parliamentarians to undertake serious rights-based scrutiny of legislation, such as the lack of time, resources and expertise, the impact of party discipline in small legislatures, and the dominance of the executive. It reports the strong views of parliamentarians that parliaments can and should have a significant role in the protection of human rights and be able to resist the pressure to trust the executive on civil liberties. The chapter argues that empowering political representative is a crucial ingredient in the promotion of the political protection of human rights, and indicates some ways that this objective could be better achieved through the use of electronic technologies in accordance with ideas concerning e-democracy, including direct public input into public policy-making. More speculatively, the chapter suggests that parliamentary representation might be reformed to provide for a more team-based approach that could utilize a broader variety of talents.

Keywords: Australian parliamentarians; parliamentary scrutiny; e-democracy; representation; critique of rights

Chapter.  9327 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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