How do state and territory parliaments scrutinize bills for their rights impact? The Case of Anti-bikie Laws

Stream: Panel 38 - Australian Politics / Media & Politics: Politics and Rights
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm


Australia continues to consider itself a ‘world leader’ in the sphere of legislative scrutiny. Existing literature gives little attention to the practice of legislative scrutiny in State and Territory parliaments; these parliaments are routinely overshadowed by federal parliament. Close attention indicates that there is great diversity in practice among these eight state and territory parliaments. In 2016 four out of eight parliaments (the ACT, NSW, Queensland and Victoria) have a formal system in place for parliamentary scrutiny of bills for their rights implications but even within this ‘formal group’ of parliaments little uniformity of approach exists. The remaining four parliaments have no formal system of rights-scrutiny of bills; these are Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. In this ‘informal group’ of parliaments, rights-scrutiny of bills is generally carried out in an ad hoc manner which relies on individual members of parliament to draw attention during debate on how a bill impacts on rights. The enormous diversity apparent in the legislative scrutiny practice across Australian parliaments is often brushed aside despite the fact that these eight parliaments are regularly engaging with rights, whether it be through prohibiting same sex discrimination or enacting laws, such as anti-bikie laws, which cut swathes into traditional common law rights. Using anti-bikie bill debates, this paper aims to analyse some of the novel ways in which rights are being protected through both formal and informal means of scrutinising bills for their rights-impact.


Laura Grenfell (Presenter), University of Adelaide
Dr Laura Grenfell is an Associate Professor at the Adelaide Law School.

She teaches and researches in public law and has a particular interest in constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, human rights law and post-conflict justice. In 2013 she published Promoting the Rule of Law in Post-Conflict States with Cambridge University Press.
Dr Grenfell has a LLM from the University of Toronto (2000-2001) and a PhD from the Australian National University (2005-2009).