What Is The Role Of The Australian Legal System In Establishing Rights, Responsibilities And Values? Discuss This In Relevence To The Euthanasia Debate.

1619 words - 6 pages

It is the role of a legal system to establish rights and responsibilities, and to uphold society's values. It is a given fact, however, that society's values will shift and change with the sands of time and, therefore, so too must the rights and responsibilities associated with those values.The most basic of rights granted to Australian citizens are contained within the Constitution. These include the right to vote in local, state and federal elections; the right to freedom of religion; as well as the right to trial by jury under the adversary system for indictable criminal offences. In order to change the written word of the Commonwealth Constitution a referendum must be held and the procedure set out in s.128 of the Constitution followed. A referendum proposal is introduced into both houses of federal parliament and, in order for the proposal to proceed, must be passed by a majority in both houses. However, special provisions involving the Governor-General do exist when one house rejects a referendum proposal twice. The proposal is then put to the citizens of Australia in the form of a 'Yes/No' question. The referendum must receive a 'yes' vote by a majority of voters in Australia, as well as a 'yes' vote from a majority of people in a majority of states (at least four out of six).It can be seen that Australians are not great advocates of change. Out of forty-four proposed amendments to the written word of the Constitution, only eight have been passed. The most notable of these occurred in 1967 when s.127 of the Constitution was repealed and Aboriginal people were granted the right to have their votes counted for the very first time. This occurrence is an example of a shifting social acceptance of the native peoples of this land (90.77% of voters were in favour of the proposal) and the legal system was able to accommodate this change in giving Aborigines the vote.Other rights of individuals are contained in the Civil Law, that is law which deals with legal relationships between individuals. The law of torts (wrongs) can be described as a body of legal principles that relate to 'categories of fault.' The tort of negligence exists to protect the rights of individuals to be free from harm that may result from the careless actions of another. If a party is negatively affected by another's actions or their rights have been violated, the law provides avenues by which the affected party can be compensated through a variety a means, including monetary compensation or court injunctions prescribing the behaviour of the defendant. Thus it is the responsibility of all citizens not to violate the rights of individuals. Despite this, it must be said that the rights and responsibilities of the people in connection with the Civil Law are somewhat ambiguous. This is due to the fact that Civil Law relies heavily of the doctrine of precedent in resolving disputes. Case Law is highly retrospective, because no two cases are ever completely alike, and because of...

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