WHENEVER the degree to which the Left has debased and shamed public discourse in Australia is in doubt, one need look no further for qualification than Human Rights bureaucrat Gillian Triggs; hot on the heels of lamenting her inability to control debate in private homes, Triggs is again basking in infamy, this time as the recipient of an award for her “fearless pursuit” of the right to free speech. The only such pursuit she has ever given is to kill it.
One one level, I’m amazed we’re even talking about this: the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs — a hyper-partisan socialist warrior who has arguably done more than any other public servant in recent Australian history to stymie free speech and distort public debate — has, incredibly, been feted with what ordinarily would be a prestigious award for “her courageous stand on people’s rights, especially free speech.”
But on another, public discourse in this country has been so shamed and debased by the insidious slither of the Left through its institutions — with the supposed conservatives currently holding office apparently unwilling and/or unable to stop it — that it ought to surprise nobody that not only is such an ideological menace able to freely embark on crusades against opponents at public expense, but that she should be lauded for it to boot.
The Australian is reporting that Liberty Victoria has gifted Triggs its Voltaire Award for “her fearless work in pursuit of people’s rights, and her courage and persistence under extraordinary pressure,” to which I can only remark that the courage of a pea-heart and the persistence enabled by a stipend of several hundred thousand dollars of misspent taxpayers’ money each year must place Triggs under great “pressure” indeed when it comes to spreading her abhorrent version of tolerance, fairness, and the advocacy of human rights.
This is the second time in a week we have spoken about free speech in this column; last week, of course, it was the tasteless and tactless antics of ABC darling Yassmin Abdel-Magied that occupied our attention, and I made the observation at the time that those in positions to influence such things ought to think long and hard about what kind of national “celebrities” they are creating.
I could just as easily make the same observation today.
Yet I also made reference in that article to Triggs, for early this year — in remarks that should strike fear into anyone flatly opposed to the notion of the Big State and its ability to regulate what its citizens think, and do, and say — the Human Rights Commission chief made headlines with a wailing complaint to decry the inability of the state to control the “free speech” that occurred around the kitchen table in ordinary family homes.
Almost as if on cue, here we are again: only this time, a prominent civil liberties body has chosen to fete Triggs for the very thing nobody with an IQ count in double figures would ever ascribe to her — being a fearless champion of entrenching and expanding the right to free speech in Australia.
This is a bureaucrat who has allowed the Human Rights Commission to be shanghaied for political advocacy purposes and used to prosecute partisan witch-hunts and sham inquisitions under S18c of the Racial Discrimination Act — often without basis or sufficient evidence to justify it — of which the notorious case against three QUT students, for the ostensible crime of disputing the exclusive allocation of university ICT resources to Aborigines, is but one example.
This is a bureaucrat who sat on a report into the detention of the children of asylum seekers during the Gillard and Rudd governments until after Labor lost an election, waited until more than 90% of those kids had been processed and released on the Coalition’s watch, and then tabled a politically biased report aimed squarely at damaging the Abbott government whilst making scant criticism of the role played by the ALP.
And whilst I am pressed for time this morning and must keep my remarks brief (for the list of examples I could cite is endless), the culture whereby “free speech” is enjoyed by anyone spouting the filthy babble of socialists and the broader Left, whilst anyone else must be slapped down, silenced and/or prosecuted “in the national interest,” is one that has been actively promoted by Professor Triggs and her QANGO with great enthusiasm and vigour. There is nothing laudable or worthwhile to be gained from such a vicious and divisive misappropriation of her brief.
The only pursuit of free speech Gillian Triggs has ever given is to aim to kill it: to advance precisely the warped, jaundiced and ideologically slanted culture that sadly infects almost every aspect of public debate and discourse in Australia. People might or might not have the right to be bigots — to paraphrase the poorly enunciated point of Attorney-General George Brandis — but they do have the right to be heard. Certainly, where hate or evil is propounded, it is entirely reasonable to shout it down.
But to control what people in a free country think and say in the first place, and then to progressively restrict and diminish the permissible subsets of beliefs that are allowed them, is a reprehensible abuse of power, and an abhorrence that no genuine proponent of free speech or human rights would ever dare to attempt.
That abuse, however, and that oft-attempted abhorrence, sit at the very heart of Professor Triggs’ activities at the Human Rights Commission. When her term shortly expires, no reasonable person will lament her departure.
The Liberty Victoria award to Professor Triggs is obscene; its Voltaire Award is looking considerably tarnished.
Far from lauding Triggs where the right to free speech is concerned, the only fitting rewards for her efforts are sneering contempt and ridicule — and the summary erasure, by any successor at the Human Rights Commission, of any lingering evidence of her tenure.