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Liberty Victoria has joined the chorus of criticism levelled at the Federal Government over its bullying of the Australian Human Rights Commission president, Professor Gillian Triggs.
It is a matter of great concern that, according to Professor Triggs’s evidence to the Senate estimates committee, she was told that the Attorney General required her resignation and that she would be offered other work with the government, if she agreed to resign as president of the AHRC.
Such a request strikes at the very heart of the independence of the Commission.
LV president George Georgiou SC said, “The AHRC has a responsibility to inquire into conduct or practices that may constitute human rights violations. Its investigations will sometimes put it in conflict with the government of the day. In order to perform its work its independence is absolutely critical.
“It must be able to do its important work without political interference, without fear or favour. If a government feels uncomfortable with the Commission’s findings, then it should either change its practices or be prepared to justify them to the wider community. To adopt the approach of publicly attacking Professor Triggs is a diversion and highly improper.”
Sadly the government’s extraordinary attack on Professor Triggs diverts attention from the incontrovertible fact that under both this government and the previous one, children are detained in immigration detention centres at a significant cost to their physical and mental wellbeing. The report of the AHRC has been tabled and is now available for all to see. The report is critical of both the government and the former Labor government. Liberty Victoria urges the federal government to consider its recommendations and to do all it can to hasten the process of removing children from detention.