Amnesty International Australia has welcomed election pledges from the new Albanese government on key human rights issues and have asked for swift action on eleven key tasks.
“The Albanese Government election policy commitments are simple, achievable steps on the way to a better, fairer country. We want the government to know that our movement and our supporters are watching and will be keeping them accountable to their promises.”Amnesty International Australia National Director, Sam Klintworth
In the first 100 days in office, Amnesty has tracked the progress of the delivery on the following pledges already made by the ALP in its policy platform, listed in no particular order, as a matter of urgency:
- Raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 nationally and establish the National Justice Reinvestment Unit, ensuring it is led by First Nations experts;
- Establish the process for real time national reporting of deaths in custody;
- The Albanese Government has assured their commitment of $79 million towards a National Justice Reinvestment Unit will go ahead. Despite this, while they’ve restated their position that 10-year-old kids don’t belong in prison, they haven’t taken any tangible actions and continue to defer to the process underway at the meeting of state and territory Attorneys-General.
Along with the Change the Record coalition, we met with Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney, calling on the Labor Government to take national leadership on this issue, and we’ll continue to do so throughout this Parliament.
- Dedicate full funding for the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children as well as initiating a separate, self-determined National Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women;
- State, territory and federal ministers have agreed on a ‘pathway’ to finalise the draft national plan to end violence against women and children and enact a gender equality strategy, and have committed to a standalone plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family safety.
We commend this approach, and will work to ensure it happens as a matter of urgency.
- Actively lead on ambitious emissions reduction targets ahead of COP27 and work with Pacific Island Countries to address the climate crisis. As a first step, the Australian Government needs to urgently update Australia’s Nationally Determined Contributions to at least meet the commitment of 43% ahead of COP27;
- In June, the Albanese Government officially signed Australia’s updated and strengthened Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the Paris Agreement on Climate of 43 per cent, fulfilling Labor’s election promise.
- The new target will see Australia aim for an emissions reduction of 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. An increase from the previous Government’s 26-28 per cent target.
- The government has moved to enshrine the new target into law, with it passing through the House of Representatives, and is yet to pass the Senate.
While we welcome progress, these commitments don’t go far enough. We can not keep global warming below 1.5 degrees if the Government continues to approve new gas and coal projects. Without further action from Australia and the world, we will still face an environmental and human rights crisis. We’ll continue to call on the Albanese Government to be more ambitious, and ensure these targets and a floor, not a ceiling and phase out fossil fuels, key drivers of the climate crisis.
- Abolish Temporary Protection and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas;
- Announce a timeframe to expand the Refugee and Humanitarian Program to 27,000 places and further reform the Community Refugee Sponsorship Program to be additional to the humanitarian intake;
- The Albanese Government continues to maintain that Temporary Protection and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas will be abolished as a priority. Despite this, we’re still yet to see any proposal, or the lifting of unnecessary travel restrictions in the interim.
- The new Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural affairs, Andrew Giles has engaged deeply with Amnesty, along with the sector and impacted communities, and we welcome that. But, people on these visas have waited 10 years for a solution to their limbo, they can’t afford to wait any longer.
- In regards to expanding the Refugee and Humanitarian Program, the Department of Home Affairs recently released a Discussion Paper, to which Amnesty made a submission calling on the Albanese Government to increase the intake to 30,000 places. While Minister Giles is yet to make any formal announcements, Amnesty will continue to engage with all members of Parliament ahead of the October Budget to ensure these commitments become a reality, including additional places for the Community Sponsorship Program.
- Ensure Australia is leading the strengthening of support for the biennial UN vote on the death penalty moratorium due again later this year – through co-sponsoring and building the numbers of co-sponsors for the resolution;
- Remove carve-outs that allow religious organisations to sack, expel or deny service to LGBTQ+ people and legislate a national ban on conversion practices;
- Actively advocate on behalf of Australians trapped overseas, including Chau Van Kham, Dr Yang Hengjun and Julian Assange;
- Improve COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution by co-sponsoring the TRIPS waiver at the WTO and expanding domestic vaccine production through extending the contract with AstraZeneca and CSL; and
- Establish a transparent and merit-based appointment process for the Australian Human Rights Commission to ensure its status as an A+ institution is maintained.
- The Albanese Government has committed to maintaining Australia’s role as a leading country when it comes to abolishing the death penalty around the world. Amnesty has met with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to discuss progressing the this year’s Death Penalty Moratorium vote at the UN, in which Australia will co-chair along with Costa Rica.
- The Albanese Government has stated they will introduce a Religious Discrimination Bill to Parliament at some point, but in a welcomed move, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has committed to amend the Sex Discrimination Act to ensure students and staff in religious schools are protected from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Despite criticising the previous Government for not doing enough in regards to advocating for Australians trapped overseas, the Albanese Government has done little more to assist Julian Assange. Assange’s extradition was approved by the UK Home Secretary, and despite legal appeals now under way, Prime Minister Albanese maintains that not all diplomacy is best done through a loudspeaker. Fortunately, the Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong has taken a different approach to the cases of Chau Van Kham and Dr Yang Hengjun, publicly raising the Australian Government’s concerns with their continued detention. Amnesty will continue to shine a light on these cases, and ensure Australia upholds its commitment to human rights.
- While a TRIPS Waiver passed at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in June , it was not the original waiver proposed by South Africa and India which had the support of over 100 member countries. Instead, lobbied heavily by pharmaceutical companies, wealthy countries banded together and passed a watered down agreement that will do little to increase vaccine access. While the Albanese Government voted for the watered down agreement, Australia never co-sponsored the original waiver, contributing to its failure. Amnesty continues to advocate for a more expansive waiver, and will work to include therapeutics and diagnostics in upcoming discussions at the WTO.
- The Albanese Government has committed to ensuring the independence of the Australian Human Rights Commission, with Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus introducing legislation to the House of Representatives that will mean appointments to the Commission are made through a merit-based and transparent process. While still yet to pass through the Senate, these measures show a commitment to transparency and integrity, which will help ensure the Commission maintains its status as an ‘A-status’ institution.
“Australians have resoundingly voted for a kinder country that puts the climate emergency, First Nations justice and women’s rights centre stage. Amnesty is calling for a national Human Rights Act, to protect the human rights of all Australians, and already has more than 20,000 Australians who have joined this call,” Amnesty International Australia National Director, Sam Klintworth, said.