Book – Annotated Queensland Human Rights Act
Authors: Kylie Evans & Nicholas Petrie
Publisher: Thomson Reuters
Reviewer: Samuel Lane
The Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) has, since its introduction, changed the legal landscape in Queensland. It has done so not just for lawyers who might pursue human rights complaints through the courts, using the piggy-backing provisions contained in the Act, but also for decision-makers exercising administrative functions, as they are now required to give consideration to how each one of their decisions might impact upon human rights. As such, a resource such as this text is as valuable to the non-lawyer as it is to the lawyer.
This impressive and comprehensive resource has been written by Kylie Evans and Nicholas Petrie, both of whom are practising barristers in Victoria with extensive experience in human rights law matters. Kylie Evans is also the co-author (with Alistair Pound SC) of the 2007 and 2018 editions of the Annotated Victorian Charter of Rights (Thomson Reuters). The Queensland text builds on and benefits from the work that was done on the Victorian text.
As I observed above, the Act has changed the legal landscape in Queensland and takes many into unfamiliar territory. For those people, the Annotated Queensland Human Rights Act provides an accessible and comprehensive pathway to understanding and applying the Act.
Unsurprisingly, the text in part proceeds (in Part 2) to provide a detailed analysis of each individual section of the Act concerning individual human rights and how the authorities dictate that those sections are to be interpreted and applied. Readers will find a comprehensive catalogue of authority, both Australian and international, in respect of each of the rights and other operative sections of the Act. A detailed analysis of the authorities of the Queensland courts, where the Act has been applied, is also provided. This includes the decision of Owen-D’Arcy v Chief Executive, Queensland Corrective Services, which is, at the time of writing, the most significant decision of the Supreme Court of Queensland addressing the application of the Act in the context of the use of solitary confinement.
Part 3 of the text considers the application of human rights in Queensland, addressing sections 38 to 60 of the Act. It includes an interesting discussion of the piggy-backing provisions of the Act, as well as the override power contained in s 43 of the Act and how it is intended to operate. Such power allows the Parliament, although it is to be deployable only in exceptional circumstances, expressly to declare that an Act or provision of an Act has effect despite being incompatible with 1 or more human rights.
Part 4 deals with perhaps the most ground-breaking part of the legislation, namely, the establishment of the Queensland Human Rights Commission. Any practitioners looking to engage with the Commission will find this chapter a very useful first port of call.
The authors have carefully and diligently assembled an impressive catalogue of international and domestic jurisprudence and compiled it in this easily accessible and authoritative text. This textbook is an essential resource for any practitioner or decision-maker in a public entity on issues concerning human rights in Queensland.