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Human rights charter wide open to abuse

The abuse of Victoria’s so-called Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities by people charged with serious offences to try to frustrate the operation of the law confirms the long-held Opposition position that the Charter is wide open to misuse, adds to court delays and wastes tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds.

“The so-called Charter makes Victoria’s legal system worse, not better,” Shadow Attorney-General Robert Clark said today.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court warned two years ago about the extra workload the so-called Charter would impose on the legal system, but Labor ignored her warning and now Victorians are paying the price.
“The Charter creates sweeping and unclear rights that cut across existing law and it encourages judges to interpret legislation in a way that was not intended, meaning the Charter is more likely to help criminals frustrate the law than help honest citizens obtain justice,” Mr Clark said.
“Labor had to employ 30 extra lawyers in the Victorian Government Solicitor’s office alone to help cope with the extra work caused by the Charter, on top of all the extra public servants hired by government departments and agencies to administer the new requirements and the extra legal advice from outside law firms paid for by taxpayers.
“All the money spent on the Charter could have paid for a lot more judges, prosecutors and legal aid lawyers, who could have dramatically reduced the backlog of criminal trials in Victoria – currently running at up to four years – and achieved more justice for Victorians than this Charter will ever provide.
“The Attorney-General has chosen very selectively from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Victoria’s so-called Charter is supposed to be based on – leaving out, for example, the parts of the covenant stating the family is the natural group unit of society and that parents should be free to ensure their children’s religious and moral education in accordance with their beliefs and values.
“Victorian laws can be benchmarked against the international covenant through both public debate and scrutiny by the all-party Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee.
“However, Labor should not be turning the existing legal rights of Victorians on their head with its so-called Charter of Human Rights,” Mr Clark said.