In 2012 Gillian Triggs retired from her position as the Dean of Sydney University Law School to take up a new job as President of the Human Rights Commission. It seemed a fitting progression for an eminently qualified public international lawyer.
I wonder if, back then, Triggs had any inkling of the fight that was ahead. Would she have guessed that four years into the five-year term she would have stared down two prime ministers, two immigration ministers and the attorney-general in a series of public rows?
Whether she anticipated it or not, it’s the reality she has faced. And so it was again yesterday.
On ABC Radio the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull admonished the HRC for bringing a controversial legal claim into the Federal Court which was then dismissed.
“What the judge was saying to the Human Rights Commission is, ‘you’ve been wasting the court’s time. You’ve been wasting government money’,” Turnbull said.
It wasn’t true and Triggs pulled no punches in saying so.
“The Prime Minister was deeply misleading in suggesting that we had brought the case. We never bring cases and we are purely passive in that sense. We don’t prosecute, we don’t pursue, we don’t instigate proceedings,” Triggs told Fairfax Media.
She fronted up to ABC’s 730 last night to defend and explain the commission’s role once again.
— abc730 (@abc730) November 7, 2016