The battle for an Australian charter of rights is the debate that will not die. The question has been a persistent part of the national discussion since World War II. The decision of the Rudd government last week to rule out a national human rights act in favour of a human rights “framework” will not change that. In fact, over time it will likely strengthen the case for reform. The debate will not go away because Australia has several persistent, deep human rights problems. Most people in the community live comfortably and without fear of their basic liberties being breached. This is not the case for many others, and the failure to treat these people with the dignity and respect they deserve is what drives the push for reform. The human rights report prepared late last year for the Rudd government by Father Frank Brennan was based upon story after story of Australian governments neglecting or ignoring people’s basic rights. Disturbingly, many of these breaches were based on policies about which our major parties have been in furious agreement, such as those that affect the lives of asylum seekers and Aboriginal Australians.