The commission’s president Gillian Triggs today warned Mr Wilson, who was hand-picked by Attorney-General George Brandis, that the commission must speak with one voice and be independent of government.
She said Mr Wilson, a former Liberal Party member and Institute of Public Affairs chief, would bring “fresh air” to the body as one of seven human rights commissioners.
“But I think it must be stressed that ultimately … we have ultimately to agree on a single policy,” she told ABC radio.
Mr Wilson believes section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which prevents people from being offended or insulted on the grounds of race, should be “unambiguously repealed”.
“I have been appointed to the role with the full knowledge of my view and I expect a reasonable accommodation of those views with respect to what the commission’s position is,” he told The Australian.
But Professor Triggs said section 18C of the Act should be “tweaked” rather than abolished.
As much as I’m enjoying watching lefty heads explode following Tim Wilson’s appointment, this sort of attitude demonstrates why the so-called Human Rights Commission should be abolished and cannot be reformed from within.
As it is Tim is compromising already. First he resigned from the Liberal Party when he took the job. Big mistake – that sends the message that freedom of association isn’t important. Then this morning, writing in The Australian, he made reference to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
All rights should be defended, but the human right most being neglected is free speech. Arguably freedom of speech is the most important human right. It is the human right necessary to protect and defend all other human rights.
Article 19 of the covenant states: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”
Article 19 ought to be the human rights community’s starting point. But at the moment it seems more like a footnote.
I don’t disagree with that – but to suggest that the UN or any international treaty is the source of our freedom is a concession to progressive ‘thinking’. Tim is on stronger ground when he writes:
From a classical liberal perspective, traditional human rights are a set of universal principles about the rights of individuals that protect their freedom including freedom of movement, association, worship, property and self-determination.
More important, human rights are not a gift bestowed on us by government; they are our basic birthright as free people.
Anyway – like many others I’m going to watch this space with much interest and much enjoyment and amusement.