Friday, February 13, 2015

Australia attacks judicial independence

Yesterday, the Australian government was finally forced to release the Australian Human Rights Commission's inquiry into children in immigration detention, which showed they were torturing children, which it had buried for months. Abbott responded with an attack on the AHRC and its role, accusing the report of being "a blatantly partisan politicised exercise" and an attack on his government. Now it turns out that just two weeks ago, he had tried to sack the Human Rights Commissioner in a transparent effort to get someone less willing to do the job:

The Abbott government sought the resignation of the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs two weeks before it launched an extraordinary attack on the commission over its report on children in immigration detention.

The request was conveyed orally by an official on behalf of the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis. It was rejected outright by Professor Triggs, who saw it as an attack on the independence and integrity of the commission and herself.

Fairfax Media understands that no grounds were given for seeking Professor Triggs' resignation and that she was told "some other opportunity" would be available to her if she resigned.

The Human Rights Commissioner is not a judge, but its a quasi-judicial role, and statutorily independent for the same reasons. Seeking to remove her is an attack on judicial independence and an attack on the integrity of Australia's human rights protections. But that's the sort of country Australia is now: a country where everything must be subordinated to the Prime Minister's whim and his desire to protect himself from criticism. Its third world stuff, what I'd expect in Fiji. And to see it happening in a supposedly democratic country like Australia is appalling.