THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
TRIGGS ATTACK COMPROMISES UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL BID
WEDNESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2015
Labor is concerned the Abbott Government’s disgraceful attack on the President of the Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, is not only improper treatment of an independent statutory office holder, but will also compromise Australia’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.
The Human Rights Council is the UN body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights. In considering Australia’s bid for a seat, Labor believes the international community will take an extremely dim view of the Abbott Government’s political interference with an independent statutory office holder undertaking her role in accordance with the law.
It was revealed in Senate hearings yesterday that the Abbott Government offered alternative work to Professor Triggs in an apparent inducement to give up her statutory role as President, which has a five year fixed term.
Professor Triggs is an eminent international lawyer of great integrity. Since her appointment in 2012 she has carried out her role with distinction.
Earlier this month, in response to the Abbott Government’s criticism of Professor Triggs, a UN working group urged Australia to “respect the rule of law and the international system for the protection of human rights by according the Australian Human Rights Commission and its President the respect that its role as the national human rights institution and her personal authority and high reputation require.”
The International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights has also raised serious concerns about the Australian Government’s behaviour in a letter sent to Prime Minister Abbott.
The former Labor Government announced Australia’s candidature for the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013.