The world according to Professor Triggs

As reported on the Mandarin website, former (thank heavens) Human Rights Commission President, Gillian Triggs said that:

Public servants must be “eternally vigilant in maintaining their tradition of frank and fearless advice based on evidence”.

Interesting since ex-Presidente was frequently confused about what actual evidence was.

Also according to ex-Presidente:

“I think there has been a definite trend in Australia for public servants to be more concerned about doing what the minister’s asked them to do, than they have working collaboratively with the minister to inform them about evidence-based policy,”

Really?  Despite her inference, doing what a minister says and evidence-based policy are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  But more to the point, and consistent with her modus operandi, public servants are not free agents able to act and pursue any objectives they see fit.  Public servants are there to implement the policies of elected governments.

It’s nice living in an ivory tower in fairy land.

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34 Responses to The world according to Professor Triggs

  1. RobK

    Sparty,
    You clearly haven’t been paying attention to the manual. It comes in an easy to watch series called “Yes, Minister.”

  2. Helen

    When I was in the public service (state) our job was to implement an act of parliament, not to implement policies. There were issues when the Minister on behalf of the government asked us to do things that were not legal under the act. So the government may have a policy, but until it’s legislated, public servants don’t necessarily have to abide by it, especially if it contradicts legislation. Ambiguous legislation is another matter, here there is room for ‘working collaboratively’, but ultimately interpretation is for the courts to decide.
    You’d be amazed at some of the things Ministers ask public servants to do.

  3. RobK

    …….and then there are acts such as the (WA) EPAct where departmental policy is the law by virtue of the act but they have secondary policies, so there are capital P policies and little p policies just to keep the public from being too comfortable about the law.

  4. Dr Fred Lenin

    Surprised Malcolm ruddbull hasn’t found comrade trigg a $300,000 pa job yet, annoying people and interfering in lives . When she got her final payout from h.r.c. did they deduct the cost of the QU case from her?

  5. Des Deskperson

    “I think there has been a definite trend in Australia for public servants to be more concerned about doing what the minister’s asked them to do, than they have working collaboratively with the minister to inform them about evidence-based policy,”

    She is particularly incensed at what she claims are public sector lawyers tailoring their advice to suit the Government.

    Until it is tested in court, legal ‘advice’ – including in the context of developing and implementing public policy – is simply opinion. It is one of a number of factors the development of ‘evidence-based policy’ has to take into account, and has to be weighed up against other risks and advantages.

    I suspect that Triggsy is miffed because she’s an expert – don’t you know – on international law and yet the government took advice from other people and this advice seems to have prevailed.

  6. Deplorable

    Ambiguous legislation is another matter, here there is room for ‘working collaboratively’, but ultimately interpretation is for the courts to decide.
    You’d be amazed at some of the things Ministers ask public servants to do.

    The problem appears to be that the public servants hired to write up legislation fall far short of the mark and ambiguous legislation is the result, courts should interpret unambiguous legislation according the the intent of unambiguous legislation. Surely this is not too much to expect from highly paid “public Servants”.

    Further I would not be amazed if Ministers asked public servants to actually work

  7. RobK

    Dep,
    Further I would not be amazed if Ministers asked public servants to actually work

    Careful what you wish for.

  8. Art Vandelay

    Public servants must be “eternally vigilant in maintaining their tradition of frank and fearless advice based on evidence”.

    When I was working in Canberra under the Howard government, it was evident that most of the core departments (eg, Treasury, Finance) offered frank and objective advice to the government for the most part. If a policy was poor, they generally would say so.

    Naively, I expected that this would continue when Rudd and Labor were elected in 2007. However I was quickly disabused of this notion. The public service bent over backwards to help the government justify and ram through whatever mad scheme or program that they’d thought up. Any public servant who dissented from the Labor line and tried to do their job was quickly identified and sidelined.

  9. Robbo

    Trigger was, is and always will be a total disgrace. Hypocrite par excellence. Most are glad she has gone and now we can only hope she shuts her nasty mouth and disappears off the public radar. Good riddance.

  10. Mother Lode

    She was always so self-assured of her intelligence: that what she said was correct and reflexively felt that anyone who contradicted her was less intelligent than her.

    Then to hear her falling over where she was caught lying, or contradicted by irrefutable evidence was to see the real her come into its own – she assumed the people who caught her out were stupid, and if they weren’t they would see things her way.

  11. Tintarella di Luna

    Will no one rid the Australian public of this pestilence

  12. BoyfromTottenham

    Tinta – unfortunately for all of us, probably not. ;-(

  13. JohnA

    And she (is that the proper pronoun?) has been quoted (see today’s headlines) as referring to

    ‘Post-truth politics responding to fear’
    By: JOE KELLY
    Gillian Triggs says Australian governments have resorted to populism over issues of asylum-seekers, refugees and terrorism.

    Madam, there is no “post-truth” there is only truth and error, and you have grasped the wrong one.

  14. Rabz

    A would be tyrant and abominable imbecile who was forever overestimating her intelligence.

    When found wanting in relation to her “performance” as Yuman Rites Kommissar, which was all the time, she’d blatantly lie.

    Her public utterances were invariably disgraceful and her abuse of her position was obscene.

    One of this country’s most beloved larrikin figures was hounded to an early grave by that monstrous evil ol’ slag, on the watch of an alleged non- collectivist government.

    Her name will live in infamy.

  15. OldOzzie

    Gillian Triggs warns of ‘post-truth politics’

    The former president of the Human Rights Commission has accused Australian governments of succumbing to “post-truth” politics in which evidence based policy is rejected in favour of populist decision making that “responds to fear.”

    Professor Gillian Triggs today said Australian governments had resorted to populism when it came to the issues of asylum-seekers, refugees and terrorism.

    She suggested the same-sex marriage debate was also taking place in the new “post-truth” climate and disputed claims there were insufficient protections for religious freedoms.

    Speaking at the Australian National University in Canberra, Professor Triggs said that religious freedoms were upheld in the constitution and took a swipe at The Australian newspaper for its coverage of the debate.

    “If you read the constitution you would know that there’s a provision in the constitution — a rare provision in the constitution for human rights,” she said. “And that protects the right to freedom of religious expression.”

    “It’s one of the best protected rights under Australian law. Yet we now have a full on daily campaign to argue that we do not have the right of adequate protection of religious freedom in this country.”

    Professor Triggs was delivering a speech earlier today on the future of social policy making at the Power to Persuade Symposium directed by UNSW Canberra.

    She used the platform to lash out at the ethics of public servants, warned against the rise of executive government and defended her controversial report into children in immigration detention.

    “A culture of post-truth has enabled government and parliament to reject evidence based reports by credible agencies in favour of populist decision making that denies the truth and responds to fear,” she said. “And this is particularly the case in relation to refugees and asylum-seekers; to terrorism; to conflict and to criminal matters in general.”

    She accused the Coalition government of politicising her Forgotten Children inquiry, arguing that the political messaging around deaths at sea and boat turn-backs made it hard for the report to cut through.

    “No other country in the world mandates the detention, in practical terms, indefinitely for many, of asylum-seekers and refugees including children,” she said. “The government rejected the report and said it was biased on the false ground that the inquiry should have been brought earlier when the Labor Party was in power.”

    “It was never about the fact of detention. It was about the long-term medical physical and mental health impacts (for children),” she said. “Holding children in detention was not a deterrent to people-smugglers.”

    “Talking of truth and persuasion, one of the greatest myths that we had so much trouble dealing with, is the myth that you need to treat people in these inhuman and illegal ways in order to stop the boats and to save drownings at sea.”

    Professor Triggs also accused some bureaucrats of providing unethical advice to government ministers — advice she said was inconsistent with Australia’s international treaty obligations.

    “I think there has been a definite trend in Australia for public servants to be more concerned about doing what the minister has asked them to do … I think that they have not always met the ethical underpinnings of good government,” she said.

    To make her case, she cited a move by the government to make a retrospective change to the Migration Act allowing it to transfer to Nauru a female Bangladeshi woman who was found to be a genuine refugee.

    She said the change to the Migration Act was made as the government was staring down a High Court challenge. “Within two or three weeks of the litigation getting to the High Court they passed a piece of legislation retrospectively to provide a basis on which she (the refugee) could be returned to Nauru,” Professor Triggs said.

    “My question is — who are the lawyers, who are the public servants who are drafting these laws and advising a minister that it’s possible to retrospectively to pass laws of this kind?”

    “If you are a practising barrister and solicitor in NSW and Victoria you have an obligation under the codes of conduct for the profession to act not only ethically but, believe it or not, consistently with human rights.”

    “How can the public service produce this kind of advice to a minister? Who drafted this legislation? And is that advice being given to the minister that it is unethical … under Australian law due to our duty of care and contrary to our international treaty obligations.”

    Professor Triggs also identified what she said was an “extraordinary” and “unprecedented” growth in executive decision making, saying this was contrary to the principle of the separation of powers.

    ‘We’ve seen a corresponding diminution in the role of the courts,” she said. “As a lawyer, that is something that I am especially concerned about.”

  16. Deplorable

    “Post truth politics” is a term Triggs must use meaning its my way or the highway. As long as the Marxist view prevails Triggs is happy but how dare the populace at large go against her edicts, how dare they reject the alt left view, she knows what is best for you so just take your Marxist medicine and shut up. Good riddance to a person whose political views are now in the dustbin long may she be forgotten.

  17. Entropy

    “I think there has been a definite trend in Australia for public servants to be more concerned about doing what the minister’s asked them to do, than they have working collaboratively with the minister to inform them about evidence-based policy

    Spoken like a true technocrat.

  18. Entropy

    We’ve seen a corresponding diminution in the role of the courts,” she said. “As a lawyer, that is something that I am especially concerned about.”

    Of course you are. The gravy train must be maintained. Lawyers know better than elected politicians who think just because the majority of the lector are voted for them to make the decisions, doesn’t mean the lawyers shouldn’t get to rule them.

    The entitlement is strong in this one.

  19. Bruce

    RobK

    “……………. so there are capital P policies and little p policies just to keep the public from being too comfortable about the law”.

    And then there are REGULATIONS, which are almost ALWAYS the “work” of the public “servants”, quite often being the same individuals or branches that are “administering” or “enforcing’ said Laws and laws.

    Does any one else see a possible (actual, really) problem with unaccountable bodies actually writing their own laws?

  20. duncanm

    wow — look at this papfest she was speaking at.

    Gendered my arse

  21. Gorky

    Evidence clearly says that John Howard lost because of what she calls populist policies. Admittedly, with all the accidents that happened, it did become a popular policy because, against advice from people like Triggsy, it was good policy.

  22. Des Deskperson

    ..it was evident that most of the core departments (eg, Treasury, Finance) offered frank and objective advice to the government for the most part. If a policy was poor, they generally would say so.

    Naively, I expected that this would continue when Rudd and Labor were elected in 2007. However I was quickly disabused of this notion.”

    Well, agency head Barbara Bennett’s pro Work Choices ads were the worst example in a long time of a senior ‘independent’ APS employee advocating Government politics. That was under Howard.

    And to be fair, under the Rudd government, Peter Faulkner got up a number of reforms designed to make the APS more independent, including merit-based selection for statutory officers, although it didn’t prevent Triggsy’s appointment.

    But the Pink Bats affair certainly was an appalling and indeed textbook example of the APS dropping any pretence to ‘evidence-based advice’ under political pressure.

    As for Triggsy, her public career should have ended very soon indeed after she described her intellectually disabled daughter as ‘retarded’ in an SMH interview.

    Few of us know how we might react to a severely disabled child, but Triggsy’s use of a contemptuous slur like ‘retarded’ showed a disturbing hardness of heart and indicated that her ‘compassion’ that was almost entirely abstract Lord knows how she got away with it.

  23. “It was never about the fact of detention. It was about the long-term medical physical and mental health impacts (for children),” she said. “Holding children in detention was not a deterrent to people-smugglers.”

    “Talking of truth and persuasion, one of the greatest myths that we had so much trouble dealing with, is the myth that you need to treat people in these inhuman and illegal ways in order to stop the boats and to save drownings at sea.”

    Two points of many than can be made bout this vacuous and self-serving tripe:
    1 If it was about the children in detention, the repot should have been conducted and tabled asap while the ALP was in government. The detention of children happened on the ALP watch. therefore, you lying old hag, your report was made political – by you and you alone.

    2. Funny, but Abbott’s tactics of turning boats around, keeping so-called “immigrants” in detention, sending them to PNG and Pacific islands DID stop the boats arriving and people drowning at sea. Besides, didn’t Krudd come up with that offshore detention idea while desperately grasping at straws to save some ALP furniture in his second attempt at being PM?

    Triggs may be finished with the AHRC, but she seems to think she hasn’t finished with trying to impose her dictatorial will on the rest of us. Honestly, there are some people who really do need to just STFU and vanish.

  24. that’s the problem when you get senile, very hard to hide your bias

  25. duncanm
    #2477433, posted on August 23, 2017 at 5:51 pm
    wow — look at this papfest she was speaking at.

    Gendered my arse

    Wow, that’s a whole seminar or whatever dedicated to telling wimmenzes that they’re the best and greatest and destined to rule the world, and that men are trash and responsible for all the violence, especially against wimminzes. What a lot of horseshlt. Honestly, it’s worrying that there is a claque of these frightbats who’re feeding each other and off each other to promote ever more of this utter balderdash. They’re going to do real harm, if they’re not already doing it. I’d bet they all idolise the Triggs. You can just imagine her as head of a NWO, decreeing that we plebs are all dirty, vicious, rotten, nasty things that need to be squashed and controlled and never allowed to think out of line, let alone utter a word that she disagreed with. A despot, if ever she were allowed any real power. She showed her true colours as head of the AHRC.

  26. John64

    No longer occupying her taxpayer funded sinecure and unencumbered by the requirement to maintain a tissue-thin veneer of impartiality; Triggs is completely off the leash and free to act out her totalitarian Orwellian fantasies.

  27. imagine you could create a one way echo chamber where nothing could ever get in, just the sound of your own precious gems of wisdom getting out to enlighten the world…

  28. just like my dear old grand grandma when she was in her mid-90’s. At least she kept her marbles a lot longer than the good old over-opinionated ex-commissioner

  29. Des Deskperson

    “Does any one else see a possible (actual, really) problem with unaccountable bodies actually writing their own laws?”

    Bruce. public servants can’t just make up ‘regulations’.

    Regulations are secondary legislation, which means that they have to be made in accordance with, and reflect, a power provided in primary legislation; that means an act passed by Parliament.

    In the Commonwealth, at least, all regulations made by public servants under a power set out in primary legislation have to be tabled in, and may be disallowed by, Parliament.

  30. Linden

    Yes that sums her up precisely!

  31. Jannie

    Public servants are there to implement the policies of elected governments.

    Only in the fairyland of white mans dreaming.

    Back n the world public servants exist to ensure continued and increasing funding for their respective bureaucracies. How and which policies are implemented are determined by the funding priority. Since they get more funding from the left, the bureaucracies will always favour leftist policies regardless of the nominal government in power.

  32. Funny how when the Left promises anyone that will vote for them anything they want it’s good caring, looking-after-the-common-man, sorry person, policy. But if the Right say what everyone is thinking and get some political success out of it they are low rent populists. Don’t think she’s smart enough to get it, even in her heyday, if she ever had one.

  33. JohnA

    done deal #2477489, posted on August 23, 2017, at 6:38 pm

    imagine you could create a one-way echo chamber where nothing could ever get in, just the sound of your own precious gems of wisdom getting out to enlighten the world…

    Yes, it has been imagined/prophesied before. It’s called Pointland in “Flatland” by Edwin A Abbott

  34. ryan

    congratulations you proved the aristocracy right,
    peasants arent smart enough to run their own affairs,
    luckily the new robber barons own everything now so it doesnt mater what you do, keep crowing that baron harkonan or whoever you wanted rothschil soros rockafella kock “won’, they are almost the same and they own you.
    DEMOCRACY is DEAD and you try to lynch the messenger LMFAO the aristocracy did always say this was how democracy would find its way naturally back to aristocracy/fascism

    i actually watched the now NWO sanitized and deleted video and it was excellent.
    a clarion cry for freedom.
    unlike the justification for ISIS’s or chinas existence as a viable alternative that i see here.
    its no wonder that Americans use 80% of the worlds opiates, they would have to to develop units like these emulate .
    more Americans die from opiate overdose then gun and car deaths combined these days.
    its the only way to keep people working so directly against their own interests

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