Bob Carr calls for end to Victorian Charter of Human Rights

FORMER NSW Labor Premier Bob Carr has warned that retaining the Victorian Charter of Human Rights could liken the state to the UK, where public servants are too scared to enforce the law in fear of being taken to court.

Speaking at a meeting calling for the repeal of the charter yesterday, Mr Carr said British public servants were so afraid of breaching the European charter of human rights, they were scared into inaction.

"I'm very worried, as my friends at British Labour Party are, that the term human rights is becoming a bad term, because of the way the European charter is invoked. It's become a term of abuse," he said.

Mr Carr said older people in working class electorates in the UK feared criminal behaviour was not dealt with by police because the culprits would claim their human rights had been infringed.

"They say the police won't do anything about it because it'll be against their human rights," Mr Carr said.

"The cases they refer to are the gypsies, or the travellers as we should call them, who go on to private property and camp there and when the police are asked to remove them, threaten to take action in the courts under the human rights charter. "So the police do nothing."

Mr Carr said having a charter of human rights affected and shaped the behaviour of public servants.

"Public service employees will opt for the easiest course," he said. "They don't want to be smacked over the knuckles by an auditor general or an ombudsman or a parliamentary public accounts committee, but they certainly don't want to be dragged into court, even more they don't want to be dragged into court and embarrassed by action invoked under a rights charter."

Mr Carr said the resources put into enforcing Victoria's human rights charter could be better spent on child protection.

But President of the Law Institute of Victoria Caroline Counsel said Mr Carr's argument was "misinformed and illogical".

"The charter should be self perpetuating, if we all do the right thing by our citizens, lawyers won't need to be involved, courts won't need to be involved, it will just happen that we all act in accordance with what is appropriate in terms or implementation of human rights," she said. [Wow! Just who is it who is being "misinformed and illogical"?]


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