On 19 August 2022, to mark the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, a panel discussion at Parliament House was held as part of the Senate public lecture series. The panel was comprised of Mr Harry Jenkins, AO (26th Speaker of the House of Representatives, Member for Scullin for 27 years and inaugural Chair of the Committee), Hon. Ken Wyatt, AM (Member for Hasluck for 12 years, former Minister for Indigenous Australians and the inaugural Deputy Chair of the Committee) and Mr Graham Perrett, MP (current Member for Moreton, former Deputy Chair of the Committee, and current member of the Committee). The discussion was moderated by the Committee’s adviser, Dr Jacqueline Mowbray, Associate Professor at the University of Sydney.
The panel reflected on the establishment of the Committee in 2012, and its remit to develop appropriate recognition of human rights in Australia and human rights issues in legislative and policy development, through the scrutiny of every Bill and every legislative instrument for compliance with international human rights law. It was observed that the Committee has, in the past 10 years, tabled 124 scrutiny reports, eight annual reports, eight inquiry reports and has considered 2,254 Bills of and over 18,000 legislative instruments. The panel discussion was wide-ranging. It included reflections on the challenges and achievements of the Committee in its early years, its role during the pandemic, and how its bipartisan nature has endured as it undertakes its important technical scrutiny work. A paper accompanying the lecture, which also assesses the impact of the Committee, is available at www.aph.gov.au/senate/lectures