The ACT Human Rights Act 2004 has excited a lot of interest among those in favour of bills of rights (among whose number I count myself). There has already been a conference held on the Act, and now a website has been set up to catalog cases dealing with it.
The trouble is, no-one seems to want to apply it. There are 19 cases on the database, and the typical case summary goes like this.
- Counsel for the accused referred to s 30 of the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT) in relation to the operation of s 187 of the Drugs of Dependence Act but without any particular suggestion as to how the construction of that Act would be altered. I can see none.
- Crispin J found that the Human Rights Act was not relevant to this issue and that it did not relevantly affect the interpretation of the Discrimination Act in this case.
- The Tribunal concluded that the provisions of the HRA did not affect the outcome of the review.
Soon we may have to ask the Zen question, if a bill of rights gets passed in the ACT, and everyone ignores it, did it really get passed?