The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has welcomed the passage of a new Bill which aims to ensure the appointment of Commissioners are free from political bias.
President of AHRC, Rosalind Croucher said the Australian Human Rights Commission Legislation Amendment (Selection and Appointment) Bill 2022 would ensure that Commissioner appointments were publicly advertised and subject to an open, transparent and merit-based process, in line with Australia’s international commitments.
“It removes the possibility of direct appointments,” Professor Croucher said.
“It also establishes that the total term of appointment of Commissioners, including any reappointments, should not exceed seven years,” she said.
“This Bill will help ensure the integrity and independence of the Commission is strengthened and that it meets global standards for independence.”
Professor Croucher said the AHRC’s previous appointment process had been criticised by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).
She said that earlier this year, the Commission underwent its five-yearly GANHRI accreditation review which saw the decision of whether to renew Australia’s A-Status accreditation deferred to October 2023.
Professor Croucher said the deferment was intended to provide the Australian Government time to address deficiencies in the appointments process for Commissioners.
“We now look forward to reporting back to GANHRI next year on this legislative outcome along with supporting policy guidance which hopefully will secure our A-Status accreditation,” she said.
“I commend Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and his team for their work in drafting the new legislation and guiding its passage through both chambers of the Australian Parliament.”