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An interview with Australia’s human rights commissioner – enough to make your skin crawl

April 25, 2016

Just the introduction to this interview with Jillian Triggs is enough to make the skin crawl:

After the government’s attempts to trash her reputation and to ignore most of the 16 recommendations in The Forgotten Children report, she’s just back from Geneva where the United Nations review of our human rights record found we’d regressed. Australia, the review found, continues to be in breach of its human rights obligations.

Triggs’ reputation has been self-trashing with no outside assistance required. The interview shows an astonishing level of arrogant ignorance, the basic setting for pretty well everyone on the left. It also shows a fantastic ignorance of the philosophy of Edmund Burke, who understood perfectly well in the 1790s the dangers in trying to implement some abstract set of human rights, which were part of his reflections on the Revolution in France. A bit from Burke, which she would have no comprehension of:

The foundation of government is . . . laid, not in imaginary rights of men, (which at best is a confusion of judicial with civil principles,) but in political convenience, and in human nature; either as that nature is universal, or as it is modified by local habits and social aptitudes.

Some highlights from the interview.

We’ve had, in my view, very poor leadership on this issue for the past 10 to 15 years, from the “children overboard” lie. They’ve been prepared to misstate the facts and conflate asylum-seeker issues with global terrorism. What I’m saying applies equally to Labor and Liberal and National parties. [Where are the Greens?] They’ve used this in bad faith to promote their own political opportunistic positions. . . .

I find myself saying pompous things like, “Please don’t break the rules here in the camp. If you do they declare you noncompliant and you end up staying longer or they are spiteful to you. Please be patient.” You can hear I’m not saying anything very comforting. The government has used the word unlawful [in relation to asylum seekers] and George Orwell understood the power of language very well. In the department you have a minister saying, “You will call these people ‘illegals’.” It’s shocking that Australia would come to that depth of abuse of power. . . .

A shocking phenomenon is Australians don’t even understand their own democratic system. They are quite content to have parliament be complicit with passing legislation to strengthen the powers of the executive and to exclude the courts. They have no idea of the separation of powers and the excessive overreach of executive government. . . .

“I must stay calm, I must keep my answers measured, moderate and evidence-based, I mustn’t be rattled by them and I mustn’t react with the same lack of courtesy that they show to me.” The reality was that they could suffer no harm from this, whereas if I gave the wrong answers, I could lose my case and I just had to keep control of myself. I knew we had the law right and the facts right. I knew that anger was under the surface. I knew I could have responded and destroyed them – I could have said, “You’ve asked me a question that demonstrated you have not read our statute. How dare you question what I do?” . . .

Some parliamentarians, and surprising ones, a Nationals MP, says “Come and give us a seminar.” Another one asked me to come up and work in parliament with the members of a particular committee that she was on. Terrific! But they listened to me and do you know, the response of some of them was, “Well, we had no idea Australia had signed up to these treaties. We should withdraw from them!”

I’ve just turned 70 and I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m so confident about the law and about the evidence for the law not being respected that I feel very sure-footed in going forward on these other issues. My resilience and determination and experience for a long time in the law give me the determination to get through the remaining 15 months to continue to speak out. When you see that you are being bullied by people who you know are not coming from a good place, you know you don’t have to give in to them. They are cowards and the moment you stand up to them they crumble, and they did crumble. And several now have been seen off long before me. They’re not used to a woman aged 70 standing up to them. They can’t quite believe it. If I were 40 looking for a career opportunity, I probably wouldn’t do what I’ve done because it would have queered the pitch for me professionally. But why do I care now? I can do what I’m trained to do and they almost can’t touch me. And I’ll continue to do that work when I’ve finished with this position.

The whole interview is a reminder of how lacking in balance these people are. Read the whole thing. Quite a revelation in the mindset of the left.

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