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Australia

https://www.idea.int/democracytracker/

February 2024

Key industrial relations reforms passed

On 12 February, parliament passed the Closing Loopholes (No. 2) Act, aimed at strengthening workers’ rights. The legislation marks a continuation of substantial employment reforms enacted in the preceding two years. Key provisions include providing protections for gig workers and contractors, revising enterprise bargaining practices, and fortifying measures against wage theft and underpayments. Noteworthy among the new provisions is the “right to disconnect,” affording workers protections from demands to work beyond their regular working hours. While some businesses and opposition lawmakers expressed concerns about the bill's particular impact on small enterprises and additional costs for consumers as well as enforcement, unions and labour rights groups have hailed the bill as an important step forward for worker rights.

Sources: SBS News, Reuters, Fair Work Ombudsman, Minter Ellison

December 2023

Government passes preventative detention laws

On 6 December, the Australian parliament passed preventative detention laws to deal with the fallout from the High Court ruling on 8 November that the country’s system of indefinite immigrant detention was unlawful, triggering the release of over 140 detainees. The new laws allow courts to re-detain former immigration detainees if they are judged to pose “an unacceptable risk of committing serious violent or sexual offence.” Rights advocates and legal experts have raised serious concerns regarding the discriminatory nature of the post-sentence scheme, noting that the Act suffers from flawed risk assessment and punitive conditions,” which only apply to non-citizens.

Sources: ABC, The Guardian, Law Council of Australia, Parliament of Australia, Human Rights Law Centre

Supreme Court in New South Wales partially overturns anti-protest laws

The New South Wales Supreme Court struck down parts of the state’s harsh anti-protest laws on 13 December, in a move welcomed by rights and environmentalist defenders. The legal challenge was mounted by the “two-knitting nannas” with the Environmental Defender’s Office as representatives. The ruling found that a law criminalizing protests that cause partial closures around ports and train stations is unconstitutional because it has a “chilling effect on political communication via protests and public assemblies.” While a partial yet significant win, rights advocates have called on the government to repeal the anti-protest laws still in place, including offences applied in circumstances where activities cause damage or the complete closure of facilities.  

Sources: Human Rights Watch, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian

November 2023

Landmark immigration ruling sparks controversy
Watch flag

On 8 November, Australia’s High Court issued a landmark ruling determining that the country’s system of indefinite immigration detention is unlawful, resulting in the release of over 140 detainees. Human rights experts welcomed the ruling, which overturns nearly a two decade-long practice by Australian authorities of holding noncitizens without visas who could not be removed from the country (for example because they were stateless) in indefinite detention. Rights advocates praised the verdict as a positive step towards a more humane immigration system, though significant reforms are still needed. However, the ruling stirred controversy within the government, leading the parliament to enact preventative detention laws that re-detain those convicted of serious crimes. Emergency powers were hastily passed, mandating additional restrictions on released detainees such as ankle bracelets and curfews - a matter which is currently being challenged in the High Court. Rights experts have stressed that all people should be treated equally before the law, regardless of their visa status.

Sources: Human Rights Watch, Refugee Council of Australia, Australian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, ABC News (1), Australian Human Rights Law Centre, ABC News (2)

October 2023

Indigenous Voice referendum fails
Election flag

On 14 October, Australian voters decisively rejected a proposal (via referendum) to recognise Indigenous people in the constitution and to establish a First Nations voice in parliament. Voter turnout was at 89.95 per cent. The outcome maintains the status quo for representation of Indigenous communities and has been described by experts as a significant setback for Indigenous rights in the nation. Indigenous leaders noted that the defeat challenges ongoing reconciliation efforts, potentially leading to more confrontational discussions over Indigenous relations and issues concerning Indigenous rights. The referendum campaign encountered numerous challenges, including a lack of bipartisan support, misinformation, and a lack of detail about implementation of the Voice. In response to the defeat, Indigenous leaders called for a "week of silence" in mourning, while Prime Minister Anthony Albanese affirmed the commitment to continuing the path toward reconciliation. 

Sources: Human Rights Watch, ASPI The Strategist, Reuters, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, New York TimesAustralian Electoral Commission

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GSoD Indices Data 2013-2022

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Basic Information

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Population Tooltip
26,005,540
System of government
Parliamentary system
Head of government
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (since 2022)
Head of government party
Australian Labor Party (ALP)
Electoral system for lower or single chamber
Alternative Vote
Women in lower or single chamber
38.0%
Women in upper chamber
56.6%
Last legislative election
2022
Effective number of political parties Tooltip
5.25
Head of state
King Charles III
Selection process for head of state
Hereditary or election by hereditary state rulers
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) date
20/01/2021
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) percentage of recommendations supported
51.45%
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Human Rights Treaties

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State Party State party
Signatory Signatory
No Action No action
United Nations Human Right Treaties
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
State Party
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
State Party
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
State Party
Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
State Party
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
State Party
Convention on the Rights of the Child
State Party
International Convention on Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
No Action
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 
No Action
International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
State Party
International Labour Organisation Treaties
Forced Labour Convention
State Party
Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
State Party
Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
State Party
Equal Remuneration Convention
State Party
Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
State Party
Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
State Party
Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment
State Party
Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention
State Party
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Performance by category over the last 6 months

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Representation neutral Rights
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Representation neutral Rule of law
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Representation neutral Participation
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Global State of Democracy Indices

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Explore the indices
Representation
Representation
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/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rights
Rights
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high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rule of Law
Rule of Law
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high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Participation
Participation
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high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4

Factors of Democratic Performance Over Time

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