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The Australian National University

Rights-Scrutiny Cultures and Anti-Bikie Bills in Australian State Parliaments: ‘A Bill of Rights for the Hell’s Angels’

Laura Grenfell (2016) 44 (3)

This paper analyses how four Australian state parliaments debate the rights implications of anti-bikie bills that restrict various individual rights. It focuses on three state parliaments—those of Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales—which have committees that scrutinise all bills for their rights implications and it compares the debate in these parliaments with that of South Australia where such systematic rights-scrutiny of all bills is absent. The paper considers whether the existence of a formal parliamentary committee for rights-scrutiny strengthens or diminishes the process of parliamentary scrutiny of bills for their rights implications. Overall the paper argues that, regardless of the system in place, parliamentary rights-scrutiny remains weak in the four surveyed Australian states when parliaments debate law and order bills. However, this weakness is manifested in different ways, with full and frank rights-deliberation deficient in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales and systematic and well-informed rights-scrutiny absent in South Australia.

Vol 44, Issue 3, 2016

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