09 June 2015
by John Passant

Gillian Triggs and the political criminals in Canberra

It says much about Australian politics that the Abbott government is attacking, yet again, Gillian Triggs, the head of Australia’s Human Rights Commission, for the ‘crime’ of doing her job.

Triggs pointed out that turning back asylum seeker boats to Indonesia might make it difficult to negotiate with the Indonesians about, for example, the abolition of the death penalty. This was part of a wider analysis about the erosion of human rights in Australia and the attempts to concentrate non-reviewable power (or only partially reviewable power) in the hands of Ministers.

She used the example of the government’s proposals to strip dual citizens of their Australian passport if they are suspected of fighting for example for ISIS in the Middle East. The burden of proving they are not rests with the person about to lose their Australian citizenship.

Note that the Immigration Minister needs merely to suspect that the Australian citizen is fighting with ISIS to make his decision to strip a dual national of his Australian citizenship. No trial, no jury, no conviction. The agencies that bought you weapons of mass destruction or echoed those lies will be advising the Minister on who they suspect is fighting for ISIS and who may or may not be a dual citizen.

Triggs is right to be worried. The trend over time has been to greater and greater surveillance and legislation and actions to restrict our basic rights.

The second thing the attacks on Triggs show is that she is the main opposition to the government. The Opposition isn’t an opposition. While Labor has come out in defence of Triggs, it isn’t leading any campaign for her. Nor has it supported her call for a royal commission into asylum seeker children in detention.

Triggs is standing up to the bullying, dictatorial Abbott government. She has garnered a lot of support. There is a lesson in this for Labor.