The committee's main function is to examine bills and legislation (including delegated legislation) for compatibility with international human rights standards.
New inquiry The committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into freedom of speech in Australia.
Role of the committee
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (the committee) is established by the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (the Act). The committee's main function is to examine all bills and legislative instruments for compatibility with human rights, and to report to both Houses of Parliament on its findings.
The resolution of appointment governing the committee’s operation is available here.
Human rights considered by the committee
Human rights are defined in the Act as the rights and freedoms contained in seven core human rights treaties to which Australia is a party. These treaties are:
The committee usually publishes its scrutiny reports in each joint sitting week. The scrutiny reports provide the committee's view on the compatibility of bills introduced into Parliament, and legislative instruments received, since its last report. The beginning of Chapter 1 of each report specifies the relevant period for legislation considered in that report.
Each scrutiny report specifies all of the bills examined by the committee in the relevant period.
However, given the large number of legislative instruments examined, the scrutiny reports do not list each of the legislative instruments examined in the relevant period, but only those which raise human rights concerns. The comprehensive record of all instruments examined by the committee in a relevant period is contained in the Journals of the Senate.
The committee undertakes its review of legislation as a technical inquiry relating to Australia's international human rights obligations. The committee does not consider the broader policy merits of legislation. The committee emphasises the importance of establishing and maintaining an effective dialogue between the committee and legislation proponents that contributes to the broader respect for and recognition of human rights in Australia.
The committee's scrutiny reports primarily focus on legislation which raises human rights concerns, having regard to the information provided by the legislation proponent in the explanatory memorandum and statement of compatibility.
Parliamentarians, interested groups and other stakeholders who wish to bring matters to the committee’s attention that are relevant to its functions under the Act are invited to do so. Noting the short timeframes in which the committee completes its assessments of bills and legislative instruments, any comments on legislation should be provided as soon as possible to ensure that they can be considered by the committee.
The committee’s scrutiny reports can be accessed on the Scrutiny reports page.
PJCHR mailing list
To subscribe to the committee's mailing list, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Subscribe PJCHR Mailing List' as the subject line.