05 July 2015
by Kaye Lee

Value for money?

When it was revealed that, on top of his $332,000 salary package and $40,000 accommodation allowance, Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson had claimed $77,763 for expenses in his first year, his response was “You’d rather I sit in my office all day?”

He spent $14,562 on cab fares, including almost $3000 for family reunion travel for his partner, claimed for an iPhone, an iPad, a laptop and a $1400 standing desk, spent about $11,000 on business class airfares abroad – although about $2000 of this was reimbursed by groups that hosted him – and $26,000 on domestic fares, including $10,800 for his partner, and $17,800 for meals and other expenses while travelling.

Remember that Mr Wilson had no apparent qualifications for this job, no relevant experience, did not have to apply for the job or go through an interview as the job was never advertised, and came from the IPA who had called for the abolition of the HRC.

His appointment, dictated by George Brandis, led to the sacking of respected Disability Commissioner Graeme Innes because Mr Brandis neglected to provide any extra funding to pay for what has turned out to be a very expensive new position.

The Australian Human Rights Commission declined to supply details of other commissioners’ expenses to see if they were comparable to Mr Wilson’s saying that “Last year the Human Rights Commissioner completed two major national consultations which required travel to remote, rural and regional Australia as well as capital cities.”

Tim started his job campaigning for the repeal of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. That didn’t go so well. His other major campaign has been for LGBTI rights. That’s not looking too good either. Whenever asked about children in indefinite detention in one of the many interviews he gives on the ABC and Skynews, he spouts the government line of “deaths at sea – stop the boats”. The children are indeed forgotten.

Tim’s recent appearance on Q&A confirmed his role as government mouthpiece when he completely abandoned his previous idea of “shining a light on dark places” through freedom of speech in favour of a strident attack on the ABC, an institution that his former employer, the IPA, also wants abolished.

I would like to see an investigation into the appointment of Mr Wilson and a productivity analysis of his work. I would also like to see a detailed list of those expenses to justify their inclusion as official business. This man is using a significant portion of the HRC’s funding. Is this the best way to spend $450,000?