Research Papers

Legal Rights Audit 2016

Written by , and
24 February 2017

This report illustrates the ongoing erosion of legal rights that persists in Australia. This has been measured by an analysis of the content of all legislation passed by the federal parliament in 2016.

Our research is an audit of Commonwealth legislation passed in 2016, building on research the Institute of Public Affairs began in 2014.1 The IPA’s 2014 report The state of fundamental legal rights in Australia found 262 provisions which breach fundamental legal rights. That report focussed on the extent to which four such fundamental legal rights are abrogated in current acts of the federal parliament:


  1. The presumption of innocence and burden of proof;
  2. Natural justice;
  3. The right to silence;
  4. Privilege against self-incrimination.


An update to that research published in April 2016 found there had been a net increase in the number of breaches in federal legislation passed during the 2015 parliamentary year, to 290.

This update includes all legislation passed by the Commonwealth parliament in 2016. In total, our research has uncovered 21 new provisions that breach fundamental legal rights in legislation passed in 2016. Just 4 were repealed.


Legal rights report 2017 front cover

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Morgan Begg

Morgan Begg is the Director, Legal Rights Program at the Institute of Public Affairs

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