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A voter drops his ballot paper into the ballot box at the Lilli Pilli polling booth during Australia's general election in Sydney on May 18, 2019. © 2019 Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images

(Sydney) – Australia’s 2022 federal election on May 21 is an opportunity for voters to make their vote count for human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Voters should consider candidates’ positions on key human rights issues and support those who will push for policies that safeguard fundamental rights in Australia and will defend human rights abroad.

On April 18, 2022, Human Rights Watch sent a questionnaire to the three largest political parties – The Coalition, the Australian Labor Party, and the Greens – in the Australian federal elections. All three parties responded.

“Australia’s election campaign has raised many issues that involve fundamental human rights including the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, the right to seek asylum, and the right be protected from discrimination,” said Sophie McNeill, Australia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “We will hold parties and candidates to their promises to uphold human rights, and we will advocate strongly where rights obligations are not being met.”

The parties provided their positions on a range of domestic human rights issues, including climate change, disproportionate incarceration of First Nations people, transgender Australians, and refugee intake.

Foreign policy questions dealt with offshore processing of asylum seekers, targeted sanctions against rights violators, human rights violations in the Asia-Pacific region, the importation of goods made with forced labor, and accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“With the world facing growing consequences from the climate crisis, abusive armed conflicts, and threats from rising illiberalism and authoritarianism, this election comes at a critical time,” McNeill said. “The impact Australian voters can have if they stand up for human rights when exercising their vote, is more important than ever.”

The compilation of responses to the questionnaire can be found on the Human Rights Watch website.

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