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“Fair Go” for all

Briefs

Cite as: (2005) 79(4) LIJ, p. 15


Victorian lawyers have been called on to help lead in building a fairer and more equitable society.

State Attorney-General Rob Hulls’ request for lawyers to demonstrate their commitment to human rights came at a special meeting at the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) on 15 February.

About 130 people attended the session “Putting the Fair Go Back on the Agenda: The future of human rights in Victoria”. The evening was presented by the LIV, Liberty Victoria, the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies and the Australian Association of Constitutional Law.

Mr Hulls, critical of the federal government’s response to the issue of human rights, said it was up to the states to make amends for the failure of the Coalition. He cited the denial of due process to alleged terrorist Mamdouh Habib and the placing of Australian citizen Cornelia Rau in an immigration detention centre as examples of the government’s abrogation of its responsibilities to its citizens.

“Government should not and must not wring its hands while fundamental human rights are diminished and breached,” Mr Hulls said.

He said it was time to have a statewide discussion on what would be a true mechanism to protect the rights of the vulnerable, whether it be a charter of rights or a statute.

“At this stage, the government favours a 12-month community consultation process, led by a panel of eminent Victorians. I believe that every lawyer and Victorian active in civic life has a particular responsibility to grapple with these broader issues.”

Mr Hulls urged the session attendees to help lead the debate about protecting human rights in a way that would help some sectors of the population overcome the suspicion with which they often regarded “big picture” issues.

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