Friday Hoyden: Gillian Triggs

Well, hasn’t this been a deeply shameful week for the behaviour of the government? OK, so that doesn’t really distinguish it from other weeks, let’s go with a week unprecedented in its shamefulness, according to former Disability Commissioner Graeme Innes.

Gillian Triggs has proved herself so far above the pitiful scrabblings of the shrivelled souls who want her to stop saying that we shouldn’t subject children to institutional abuse that she has forced them to reveal themselves for what they are. I can’t imagine how much grit it would take to outlast that baying pack, but it seems to be coming from the absoluteness of her conviction on the topic. The impression is distinct that she is doing this for the children, not for herself.

The steadfastness of the President of the Human Rights Commission in the face of every possible form of disparagement has been breathtaking. This is a woman who will not be messed with, and her opponents are only succeeding in embarrassing themselves. They so clearly have nothing whatever on her, and they are never, ever going to unsettle her enough for her to open up even the smallest error of phrasing for them to pounce on. This is pushing them, bit by bit, towards outright lying as every slight and insinuation rings so hollow, they look for a way to back them up, find nothing, and grasp a little bit further.

Short-haired white woman at lectern in front of sign reading 'Forgotten Children'.

Gillian Triggs in action

What my vagrant mind keeps returning to is that old play A Man For All Seasons. Watching the travesty of the Murdoch press and LNP members clawing for some way to imply that Triggs sought, in effect, a bribe,  I am reminded of the scene where Cromwell claims he has evidence that Sir Thomas More accepted bribes, and Norfolk exclaims, “Goddammit, he was the only judge since Cato who didn’t!” Consider Senator MacDonald, cast in the role of a less clever Cromwell, trying to give George Brandis, as a less suave Henry VIII, the annulment he is looking for, and only succeeding in painting them all into a cramped and splintery corner. With a big floodlight on it. I only hope, for everyone’s sake, that they can find no one to take the role of Richard Rich, the witness in this clip:

As has been pointed out repeatedly, all this serves as too great a distraction from the only thing we should be taking about – the children still imprisoned. Therefore, the best thing we can do in these circumstances is to take seriously the message on the frontispiece of the Forgotten Children report itself: ”The Australian Human Rights Commission encourages the dissemination and exchange of information provided in this publication.” Calls for action don’t come any clearer. So here is the PDF of the full report, in the hope that we will all show our support for Gillian Triggs by doing exactly that.

Update: a summary from Deborah Snow and Sarah Whyte in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, law & order, media, parties and factions, social justice, violence

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2 replies

  1. Thanks for writing this post, Orlando. I have been utterly appalled by the vicious denigration and trashing of Triggs’ reputation, and given that I’m pretty sure they’re just doing this as part of their ongoing ideological mission to dismantle the HRC entirely (hi there totally impartial and independent Tim Wilson!) rather than as anything personal or even truly partisan political only makes it worse.

    So sad this is a totally meaningless action.
    OMG, Tim Wilson as HRC? They’ll be allowed to burn children in detention at the stake.
    My dad’s decision to remain classified as an ‘alien’ to this country for over 50 years seems like a pretty good one.
    Hillary Mantel has ruined Thomas More for me. Ruined.

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