Freedom of speech

Outgoing human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs wins freedom of speech award

This is one hell of a joke. Isn’t it?


The Guardian, by Calla Wahlquist, May 3, 2017:

Gillian Triggs will receive a top award for freedom of speech one week before her five-year contract as Australian human rights commissioner expires.

Triggs, who has been consistently criticised by the Abbott and Turnbull governments for her condemnation of Australia’s treatment of refugees, was named the 2017 recipient of the Voltaire award by Liberty Victoria on Tuesday for her “courageous stand on people’s rights”.

“It’s a recognition of her work and the courage she has exhibited in the face of very withering criticism from the government from time to time,” Prof Spencer Zifcak, acting president of Liberty Victoria, told Guardian Australia.

“Most people would just have resigned in the face of the criticism that she has received.”

Senior government ministers, including the attorney general, George Brandis, and the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, have called for Triggs’ resignation over the past two years in response to her criticism of the treatment of refugees, particularly children, in Australia’s offshore detention centres on Manus and Nauru.

Triggs responded to what she described as “highly personal” criticism by saying that resigning in the face of such attacks was “the very reverse of what I ought to be doing”.

In November the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, confirmed that Triggs’ role as human rights commissioner would end when her contract expired in mid-2017, and Triggs told Guardian Australia she had not sought reappointment.

Zifcak said the decision to give the Voltaire award to Triggs was not intended as a political statement against the government. For an institution formed by human rights lawyers who frequently attack governments of all political stripes, he said, invoking some political ire “just goes with the territory”.

Triggs is expected to accept the award at ceremony in Melbourne in July.

Triggs said she was “honoured” to receive the award and congratulated the other winners in a statement that referenced the controversy over section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which the government attempted to water down.

“It’s so important that we strike the balance between speaking freely and protecting people for racial abuse,” she said….

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