HUMAN RIGHTS CHARTER NEGLECTED IN AMENDMENTS TO MARINE SAFETY LAWS
The Minister for Ports, Denis Napthine, has demonstrated a blithe disregard for Victoria’s
human rights charter and for proper legislative procedure in introducing
amendments to marine safety laws.
Concerns have been raised by the Victorian Parliamentary Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee that the new laws may violate Victorians’ basic rights to a fair
trial, the presumption of innocence and to their private property.
Should they be passed in their present state, the new laws could require a person charged
under some of the new provisions to provide testimony against himself or herself, and to have their testimony corroborated by another witness (a requirement that is being purged from other areas of Victorian Law).
When the Minister introduced the Bill to Parliament, he declared in the Statement of
Compatibility that he considered the “limitations on human rights under the bill are demonstrably justified” (Hansard 12 September 2012, 4125).
In a highly critical report, the Committee notes that the Minister did not comply with the
requirements of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities because he did not identify the new sections that placed potential limitations on Victorians’ rights to a fair trial and did not address at all the potential breach of the right to privacy.
The Opposition are pursuing the drafting of amendments to this Bill.