16 June 2015

Professor Gillian Triggs

The Australian Human Rights Commission released a damning report into children in detention after the Abbott government came to power.

There followed a sustained campaign (orchestrated, I guess by the Prime Minister’s Office) the latest salvo which happened on Q & A (ABC TV) last night.

"Gillian, … that report of yours was seen by many … as one that … should have been done under the previous Government … but you chose to do it afterwards and that made it very political," Ms Bishop said.
"It has made you a very political figure. Therefore, you are subject to criticism," she said.

"My position is not a political one," Professor Triggs said. "We work according to the law at the Australian Human Rights Commission and we try to ensure that our evidence is accurate and well-founded. Unfortunately … many of our findings and recommendations are interpreted in political ways.


Part II—Australian Human Rights Commission
Division 1—Establishment and Constitution of Commission

11 Functions of Commission
(1) The functions of the Commission are:
(f) to inquire into any act or practice that may be inconsistent with or contrary to any human right, and:
(i) …
(ii) where the Commission is of the opinion that the act or practice is inconsistent with or contrary to any human right, and the Commission has not considered it appropriate to endeavour to effect a settlement of the matters that gave rise to the inquiry or has endeavoured without success to effect such a settlement—to report to the Minister in relation to the inquiry; and
(g) to promote an understanding and acceptance, and the public discussion, of human rights in Australia; …

To put it simply

a statutory officer does the job she’s paid to do. The Government sees that person's work as an attack on its indefensible policies. Without argument (slogans are not argument) Government ministers and the Prime Minister mount an angry, vicious campaign against the officer (whom they can’t easily sack) aided by compliant News Corp journalists and aimed at Herald Sun (et al) readers. A case of the unthinking right wing writing for the unthinking right wing using leaks and notes apparently provided by the PMO. The Prime Minister has resorted to the base tactics typical of those with no argument: bullying and ridicule.

Bishop trotted out the speaking notes others have used, so inevitably I was led to,
“I always voted at my party’s call; I never thought of thinking for myself at all”
Source: HMS Pinafore, WS Gilbert

Professor Triggs has a distinguished history in law and human rights. Which of her assailants come even close to that record? She is, for example, a Board Member of the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) and thereby Justice Connect. 

What is your problem Mr Abbot?

“Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie, 
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!”
Source: To a Mouse, Robert Burns

Why the violence? 
Why your customary aggression?
Don't you know any other possible response?
Why don't we hear from you discussion (as opposed to trite three-word slogans) such as this?
Professor Gillian Triggs made an impassioned call for the rule of law at the 2015 human rights dinners.
Source: http://www.justiceconnect.org.au/gillian-triggs-human-rights-dinner-speech

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