Government v. Triggs

Today we have seen – to this regime’s eternal shame – the bastardisation of the separation of powers, with cane toad’s ouster of a most honourable person, Justin Gleeson SG, QC etc. It becomes even more imperative to watch their every move on the Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Gillian Triggs. Thanks as always to Dr Jennifer Wilson of No Place for Sheep for her take on this appalling situation.

David Rowe; Fairfax

It’s hardly President of the Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs’ fault when the Australian government is the worst human rights offender that Commission has to deal with.

When a government acts criminally, one hope for recourse is that statutory bodies will refuse to collude with or enable that government’s criminal behaviour, and indeed, that such bodies will name and shame the errant government.

The Turnbull government’s accusation that Professor Triggs is “politicising” her role is, like much of this government’s spin, farcical. For a start human rights are inherently political, and secondly all actions by governments are also inherently political. If the Turnbull government is determined to transgress the human rights of refugees currently abandoned to a highly uncertain future on Manus Island and Nauru, Professor Triggs has no option but to hold it accountable, otherwise she isn’t doing her job.

Of course any commentary Triggs runs on the government of the day is necessarily political, favourable or otherwise. There are instances in which even the silence of someone in her position is political.

Is it the government’s expectation that Triggs will ignore human rights abuses because they are perpetrated by the government? In what country are we living?

Triggs isn’t acting in isolation. Amnesty, the UNHCR, professionals who’ve worked on Manus and Nauru, refugee advocates, some thirty nation states, and this editorial in the New York Times speak with one voice to Australia’s refugee detention policies, and that one voice is damning.

There’s no doubt that in some instances, including the New York Times editorial, there’s blatant examples of the pot/kettle affliction, however, that does not invalidate the truth of the protests against Australia’s policies.

In a classic abuser pattern of behaviour, the Turnbull government continues its efforts to destroy the messenger, in this case Professor Triggs, though the government isn’t fussy, the tactic is transferable. The first concern of abusers is to silence accusers, and the government has displayed this pathology innumerable times, not only in relation to the secrecy with which it surrounds Manus and Nauru and threats of retribution, including imprisonment, against anyone who might transgress those secrecy demands.

Last week, the Border Force Act was amended to remove a comprehensive list of health professionals from the threat of two years jail for speaking publicly about conditions they encountered whilst working in the detention camps. The Turnbull government was forced to make this particular backflip because health professionals have spoken out regardless of the intimidation, and even this collection of political grotesques can see the folly of prosecuting them. However, they can still go after Gillian Triggs and deprived of other targets, they’ll no doubt double their efforts.

(Note to Turnbull government: never wise to make threats you can’t carry out. Makes you look wussy.)

Obviously, the solution for the government is to cease persecuting refugees. The pursuit of Professor Triggs is a distraction: don’t look at the refugees, look at this woman who is (allegedly) overstepping her role. It’s a greater offence to (allegedly) overstep a role than it is to torture refugees. Again, we see the classic abuser spin: it is a far worse crime to speak out about abuse than it is to perpetrate it.

It’s been messenger season as long as I can remember, in private and in public life. The paradigm is deeply entrenched in our society. It starts at the top and it doesn’t trickle down, it roars like a river in flood. It’s time to turn it around and put the focus where it belongs: on the perpetrator. In this case, the Turnbull government.

Stand with the messengers. Stand with Gillian Triggs.

Friday Fun Facts


Just Because

In old Germanic tribes, the day of the week was dedicated to the goddess Freya, which is why in English Friday called Friday.


 In Catholic countries Friday – the sixth, not fifth day of the week.


“Friday” – the proper name of the character of the novel by Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”, the native and the novel’s heroine, “Friday, which kills” the science fiction of Heinlein – spy and trained killer.


 In most places, where the adopted five-day week, Friday – the last working day before the weekend and is therefore seen as an occasion for celebration and relaxation – “Friday’s syndrome.”


Abbott wants his job back


 Shorten is doing well


And Tomorrow is the cox plate.


What’s your tips? Pick the winner for Bragging rites.


Winx not included.


Political Infamy

A little earlier this evening there was a short debate that seemed to have at its core the origins of the worst ever Australian politicians.

This is my contribution.

State and Territory rivalry when it comes to appalling politicians?

Nah, every, but every, bit of Oz has produced them.

Queensland? “Sir” Joh has to take the pumpkin scone,


but he may even have been excelled by Sir Russ Hinze,


not to mention Candont:

Gladly, the Cross-eyed Bear

New South Wales? Ladies and gentleplums, I gives ya The Rum Corps in all its manifold manifestations up to the present day.


Especially Robert Robin Askin.


Victoria? Bolte goes without saying (pity he didn’t go without hanging someone else).

Australian Screen



The so appropriately-named Sir Thomas Bent?

Kingston Historical Website

Mania? The prize pig at the moment is obviously Erica, but


Andrew Nikolic

Launceston Examiner

and possibly Joe Lyons

Australian Prime Ministers

should get a mention. Or a guernsey. Or a life.

South Oz? Laydees and Gemmum, I gives ya Corgi Bernardi.

Daily Mail

Enuff said (but sure, there’s more – XXXXX).

Sandgropers? Brian Burke


Noel Crichton-Brown:


Ross Lightfoot (and light other things):

Penny Bradfield; Fairfax

Don Randall:

Perth Now

. . . need I continue?

ACT? Kate Carnell,

Harm Reduction Australia

Zed Seselja,

Canberra Times

but in spite of everything I adored Gus Petersilka (yeah, well, once upon a time self-government seemed to be a good idea):

Libraries ACT

Northern Territory? Hard to know where to start, given the astonishing fluidity of politics there.

Of course my bias is showing. I would be delighted if you would share your own particular biases with The Pub!