The Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) (Act) commenced on 1 January 2020. It’s back in the spotlight this month following the launch of action by Youth Verdict, a youth justice action group, against Clive Palmer’s proposed Galilee Coal Project in the Land Court.
The Environmental Defenders Office is acting on behalf of Youth Verdict and will argue that the Galilee Coal Project will cause a breach of human rights by fuelling climate change.
The human rights which the group will argue have been infringed upon include:
- the right to life – because the new coal mine and the resulting emissions making climate change worse will violate young people’s right to life;
- the rights of the child – because children are a vulnerable group who do not have the power to influence decisions on climate change and will feel the impacts disproportionately. Their rights are infringed because the mine drives climate change;
- cultural rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples – because the mine limits the cultural rights due to the impacts climate change will have on cultural practice; and
- freedom from discrimination – because vulnerable people will suffer the most.
Many will be watching the case closely to see how it develops. In the meantime, it serves as a timely reminder to local governments to ensure they are meeting their human rights obligations.
The Act itself aims to protect 23 human rights. It seeks to protect these rights by requiring public entities to act and make decisions in a way that is compatible with human rights. A local government, councillor and local government employee are included in the definition of public entity for the purposes of the Act.
Local governments, councillors and local government employees need to make sure that any decisions they make are compatible with human rights.
If your local government needs some practical guidance on how to ensure it is meeting these important obligations talk to our Team today.