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News Article

Queenslanders should shun a charter of rights
Friday, September 18, 2015

Geoffrey Bullock addressing the FamilyVoice Queensland Annual Review last Saturday


“The Queensland government’s proposal to hold a charter of rights inquiry should ring warning bells,” FamilyVoice Queensland Director Geoffrey Bullock said today.   

“No one should assume such a charter would protect important rights.  There is no evidence that the Victorian charter has done so.  The Soviet dictatorship had a magnificent bill of rights – that protected no one!  

“In a democracy, our laws protect our rights.  If that protection is inadequate, elected MPs can change the law to fix the problem.   

“But once you list rights in a charter, there will inevitably be conflicts about which rights are more important.  And it is unelected judges, not elected MPs, who get to decide.”  

Geoffrey Bullock said the late Queensland High Court Chief Justice Sir Harry Gibbs told a conference in 1992:  “At first sight it might appear that a bill of rights could do nothing but good, securing liberty and justice.  A little thought will show that it would have disadvantages a well as advantages.  Perhaps the greatest disadvantage is that no human mind can foresee the effect which a court may ultimately give to general words intended to guarantee a right.”  

Sir Harry also said:  “If society is tolerant and rational, it does not need a bill of rights.  If it is not, no bill of rights will preserve it.” 


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