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Bill of Rights

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Does Australia have or need a Bill of Rights?

Many people confuse our system with the American system.  But concerning citizen’s rights, Australia is very different and is based on the British model. It relies on legislated rights and common law rights, and the fact that specifying rights does not always add to them or ensure their existence.

Both the Commonwealth and State Constitutions are mainly concerned with the powers of law and government. In the Commonwealth Constitution there are few references to the rights and liberties of individuals. This has been of concern to some people.  In 1988, a referendum was held to add several rights and freedoms to the Commonwealth Constitution. The referendum was unsuccessful.

The Western Australian Constitution makes no references to an individual’s rights either. Instead, Australians, like the British, have the right to do something unless the government says otherwise. Thus the Constitution has a part in the daily lives of all Australians.


Acknowledgement of Country

The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.