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Delegating Rights ProtectionThe Rise of Bills of Rights in the Westminster World$
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David Erdos

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199557769

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199557769.001.0001

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Australia and the failure of national bill of rights genesis

Australia and the failure of national bill of rights genesis

(p.126) 8 Australia and the failure of national bill of rights genesis
Delegating Rights Protection

David Erdos (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the contours of bill of rights debates and outcomes in Australia. The first part of the chapter demonstrates that, similarly to the situation in other Westminster democracies, pressure for a bill of rights has been emerged from the 1960s from a constituency of civil liberty and social equality seekers, given added political saliency by the postmaterialization of the Australian economy and society. The second part then explores the puzzle of why, uniquely, no such initiatives have proved successful. An explanation based on the alleged special weakness of background pressure for such a reform is rejected. Instead, it is argued that two features of Australian politics have blocked the supply of a bill of rights in this case. Firstly, Australia's strong institutional fragmentation compared at least with the United Kingdom and New Zealand have raised the bar which elite supporters of a bill of rights have to surpass in order to bring this project to fruition. Secondly, and more importantly, during relevant periods of its history, Australia has lacked a clear political trigger providing elites and others with an immediate impetus for change. The chapter closes with a brief consideration of the prospects for bill of rights genesis, following the return of the Rudd Labor Government in 2007.

Keywords:   Australian Bill of Rights Bill, postmaterialism, multiculturalism, Gough Whitlam, Lionel Murphy, Gareth Evans, Lionel Bowen, Kevin Rudd, Robert McClelland, National Human Rights Consultation

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