Censured: The problem is Brandis not Triggs.

3 Mar

George Brandis


Yesterday’s Senate censure of Attorney-General George Brandis for his treatment of Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs, has no direct constitutional or legal consequences. It is important, however, that the censure motion is on record as an example of attempts to bully into silence the head of a statutory authority the Attorney-General is obliged, in his job description, to defend against malicious attack.

If the government of the day is dissatisfied with the performance of the head of a statutory body there are presumably procedures in place to deal with that situation. I doubt very much that one of them is instigating personal public attacks. At the very least, the Attorney-General should be aware of the proper way to go about addressing perceived performance failures, and follow those guidelines.

Professor Triggs was entitled to natural justice. Instead she was subjected to an appalling attack by the very person who is obliged to ensure her right to natural justice is honoured.  This alone is just cause for censuring the Attorney-General, who could not have more blatantly failed to carry out his duties.

An Attorney-General who behaves in such a manner has gone rogue. He is not upholding the principles and duties of his office. He is making up the rules as he goes along. He is supported absolutely in his feral abrogation by his Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

This is our problem. It isn’t Gillian Triggs. It’s a government that has scant regard for any statutory body, any procedure, any law that doesn’t suit their ideological ambitions. The HRC is an anathema to the Abbott government, not least because one of the Commission’s responsibilities is to monitor and report on the actions of that government. What better way to demoralise and disempower the HRC than to publicly and ferociously go after its head?



9 Responses to “Censured: The problem is Brandis not Triggs.”

  1. Jo Tamar March 3, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    This brings to mind the conduct of Daryl Williams in failing to defend the High Court (particularly over the Wik decision) and Justice Kirby (from attack by Heffernan in the Senate).

    This is an excellent paper outlining the arguments. (NB: link goes to pdf)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Michaela Tschudi March 3, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

    The presumption that the rule of law exists in Australia has taken a savage beating by this thug Brandis. He’s got to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn March 3, 2015 at 6:20 pm #

      The rule of law has not applied to certain groups in Australia ever, it certainly has never applied to the rights of refugees.


      • paul walter March 3, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

        If it doesn’t apply to the rest of us, why should it apply to refugees?


  3. doug quixote March 4, 2015 at 1:11 am #

    Brandis is a disgrace to his high office. One of his responsibilities is to defend his senior public servants, and certainly to defend Gillian Triggs.

    He not only failed to defend her but joined in the attack.

    I am battling to find many of Abbott’s ministers who are even marginally competent, but few are as disgraceful as Brandis. David Johnston was sacked from Defence, and Hockey should be sacked from Treasury. I doubt whether Dutton is up to any senior ministry.

    Its a piss-poor lot when Julie Bishop is rated one of the best, after she has annoyed just about every neighbour and ally we have left.

    Who voted for this lot – are any willing to confess?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson March 4, 2015 at 7:40 am #

      Nobody admits to it! It was an immaculate conception!


    • Stephen Ashford March 11, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

      To doug quixote you can’t have been watching any of the senate hearings in which Gillian Triggs gave evidence,As far as Julie Bishop goes she has proven herself to be a very competant lawyer over a long period of time.


      • paul walter March 12, 2015 at 12:18 am #

        As Bernie Banton and co found out.

        Liked by 1 person

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