Statutory rights


  • Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Act 1986 – establishing the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission. Currently presided over by Gillian Triggs
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975Koowarta v Bjelke Peterson 1982; Eatock v. Bolt 2011
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992Finney v. Hills Grammar School 1999 (1998 before the HREOC)
  • Age Discrimination Act 2004


  • Enforcement lies with the Human Rights Commission, a non-judicial body that cannot award damages or sanction. (Also criticisms about how the HRC cannot be held to account, and is non-democratic)
  • Complaints against human rights violations can be brought before the HRC
  • Due to parliamentary sovereignty, Parl can easily amend or dissolve these, and hence endanger these rights
  • However, this means that these rights are democratically enacted, and can be easily changed to reflect societal attitudes.
  • Statutory rights have no other status higher than ordinary law: it can be overruled/suspended by future legislation.
  • Hence, statutory rights are not very effective in protecting rights.






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