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The President of Liberty Victoria, Professor Spencer Zifcak, said today that he was deeply disturbed by the resignation of all but one of the members of the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
“The Commission has been plunged into crisis because of the Attorney-General Robert Clark’s political veto of the appointment a new Human Rights Commissioner for Victoria”, he said. “The most important agency ensuring that the human rights of all Victorians are effectively protected is now in a state of disarray”.
The Commission was formerly comprised of people whose human rights credentials were impeccable. Now the Commission’s only remaining member is barrister, John Searle, Mr Clark’s personal appointee. Another of Mr Clark’s appointments to the Commission was forced to resign recently for making unsubstantiated claims concerning the health and welfare of the children of gay unions. “That was a fiasco that the Attorney should have seen coming a mile off”.
“All this exhibits a very worrying trend”, Professor Zifcak said. “We now have three independent commissioner positions in government unfilled. This is either because of political interference or because highly qualified candidates are unwilling to apply for them because their governing legislation is so weak”.
“There is no anti-corruption commissioner, no freedom of information commissioner and no human rights commissioner”.
“What links these three positions is that each one is designed to hold the Victorian government to account. Regrettably, it is beginning to look like effective accountability is the last thing the Attorney-General wants to see established in Victoria”.