What are some restrictions and prohibitions regarding the constitution and protection of rights?
Thank you for your question about the Australian Constitution and its protection of rights.
Unlike some countries, such as the United States of America, the Australian Constitution does not include a Bill of Rights which specifically lists the rights of its citizens.
However, the Constitution does mention and protect some important rights such as:
- Section 51 (xxxi) requires that the Australian Government may only acquire property on ‘just terms’
- Section 80 guarantees the right to trial ‘by jury’ for federal cases
- Section 92 requires that trade and commerce between the states shall be ‘absolutely free’
- Section 116 guarantees a range of religious freedoms, including the right to engage in the ‘free exercise of any religion’
- Section 117 prohibits the imposition of ‘any disability or discrimination’ based on where a person lives.
Many other rights are protected in Australia even if they are not mentioned in the Constitution. This occurs because:
- the Australian Parliament (along with state and territory parliaments) has made laws to protect specific rights, and
- there is a long history of courts making judgements to protect specific rights through what is known as common or case law.
A protest at Australian Parliament House.
Parliamentary Education Office (peo.gov.au)
This photo shows a large group of people standing outside, with tall trees in the background. Some people are holding signs, including one that says 'let us vote for a legitimate government'. There is a camera tripod in the foreground and some people are also using cameras.
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