The Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth) commenced on 4 January 2012. The Act requires all new bills and disallowable legislative instruments to be accompanied by a ‘Statement of compatibility with human rights’. Statements must assess compatibility against the seven main United Nations human rights treaties to which Australia is a party.
The Act also establishes a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights which was established by a resolution of appointment on 13 March 2012. It is the first Commonwealth Parliamentary Committee dedicated solely to human rights scrutiny. The Committee has the following functions:
To examine Bills of Acts, and legislative instruments, that come before either House of the Parliament for compatibility with human rights;
To examine Acts for compatibility with human rights; and
To inquire into any matter relating to human rights which is referred to it by the Attorney-General.