The Federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, has rejected a proposal, led by Catholic priest Father Frank Brennan, for a human rights charter because it was too politically divisive.
The bill of rights had been recommended by a consultation committee chaired by Father Brennan, but was opposed by the federal Labor cabinet after a backlash from prominent figures who feared it would hand too much power to the judiciary, the Age reports.
Mr McClelland denied he had unrealistically raised expectations of a charter by spending $2.8 million on a human rights consultation process, The Australian reports.
Instead, the Attorney-General said he would introduce "positive and practical" measures to improve human rights but stood by the government's decision to reject its human rights committee's recommendation for a charter.
"A legislative charter of rights is not included in the framework as the government believes that the enhancement of human rights should be done in a way that, as far as possible, unites rather than divides our community," he told the National Press Club in Canberra.
He said the government would form a new parliamentary committee to scrutinise laws for compliance with international human rights obligations.
The government would also require that new bills introduced to parliament were accompanied by a statement of compatibility with human rights.
And he said it would spend $12m improving education on human rights.
The measures seek to clarify the government's plans for human rights ahead of this year's election, The Australian added.
The human rights lobby condemned the measures announced yesterday, and said they did not go far enough. Human Rights Commissioner Catherine Branson said the decision was disappointing.
Outcry over rights act (The Age)
Attorney-General spineless, say human rights groups (The Australian)
Flickr / CC BY-2.0