Bill introduced in effort to restore AHRC’s status

By Anna Macdonald

July 28, 2022

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The government has introduced legislation in an effort to re-establish the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)’s A-grade status. 

In March, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions deferred the reaccreditation, with the government given a deadline of October 2023 before the status is fully revoked. 

In a speech introducing legislation intended to make the appointment process to the AHRC ‘merit-based and transparent’ — a key reason why the AHRC’s status is in question — attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said Australia’s anti-discrimination system was dependent on the AHRC being reaccredited. 

“An independent Human Rights Commission is fundamental to Australia’s human rights agenda — both internationally and domestically. 

“This government strongly supports the work of the Australian Human Rights Commission and is committed to restoring integrity to the process of president and commissioner appointments,” the minister said. 

Dreyfus added being downgraded would affect Australia’s reputation internationally, and limit the country’s involvement in areas such as access to the United Human Rights Council. 

Part of the amended bill now requires vacancies to be advertised publicly and nationally, such as in newspapers and government websites. 

The bill also introduces a limit on the tenure of the AHRC’s president and commissioners, with a maximum term of seven years including reappointments. 

The AHRC has said it welcomes the introduction of the legislation.

At the time of the news it would not be reaccredited, the AHRC’s president Rosalind Croucher shared concerns about the impacts not being reaccreditation would have on Australia’s international relations, and would work with the government. 

“The commission continues to advocate for the necessary policy and legislative changes to ensure commissioner appointments are publicly advertised and subject to an open, transparent and merit-based process, in line with our international commitments,” an AHRC statement read earlier this year. 


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