Chartered waters

The Australian governance stream of the 2020 summit has ‘expressed strong support for a statutory Bill or Charter of Rights, with minority support for a parliamentary Charter.’ Apart from what is (surely) the last gasp for the ‘Bill… of Rights’ langauge in Australia,  there are no surprises here. The media certainly picked up on the charter proposal – they’d probably written this stuff in advance –  although the Republic discussion completely overshadowed it. Interestingly, both the republic and the charter seem to have been the responsibility of a single branch of the governance stream: ‘Rights and Responsibilities’ (sigh). Disappointingly, there’s no hint so far that anyone sees (or is willing to push for) a link between these two issues.

What is also disappointing, and a little surprising, is the lack of language about how such a charter of rights will come about (a contrast to the discussoin of the republic.) This is meant to be a summit of ideas and there’s no way that a mere proposal to have a statutory charter can qualify as that. Reports that Rudd was worried about the lacklustre nature of the governance discussion and got McKew to pep things up adds to my concern. I assume – or at least hope – that some genuinely new ideas about how to get a charter enacted and maybe how it will operate in the federal sphere were discussed and sifted, and that the final report, whenever it emerges, will be more interesting than this stuff.

That being said, there were two interesting tweaks on the charter idea in the initial report that I’m sure that Rudd will seize on. Continue reading