POLITICS

Triggs Departs, Slams Government As 'Ideologically Opposed To Human Rights'

Gillian Triggs has a few things to say on her last day.

26/07/2017 11:35 AM AEST | Updated 26/07/2017 11:35 AM AEST
Wayne Taylor/Fairfax Media
Gillian Triggs: "We have a government which is ideologically opposed to human rights."

CANBERRA -- One of the most polarising figures in Australian politics departs her job today after controversial five years and Professor Gillian Triggs is going out fighting, accusing the Turnbull Government of being "ideologically opposed to human rights".

And the outgoing President of the Human Rights Commission is seriously questioning Australia's very likely ascendancy later this year to the UN's Human Rights Council, suggesting it is not deserved.

"It is a very, very false endorsement as the competition has dropped out so Australia will be moving into that position almost automatically," she told RN Breakfast.

"There will be no judgement on Australia's position on human rights."

During her term on the statutory body, Triggs has had an acrimonious relationship with the Abbott and Turnbull Governments as well as sections of the media, especially over Australia's treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

The outgoing President told RN Breakfast host Fran Kelly the state of human rights in Australia have regressed over the past five years for women, indigenous people, homeless people and in the area of immigration for asylum seekers and refugees.

They are, according to Triggs, issues which are generally "out of mind, out of sight".

"I think it is partly because we have a government which is ideologically opposed to human rights," she said.

"And I think it is exacerbated by the distance of most Australians where these problems are most visible."

But she also decried, as she has done before, Australia's lack of a Bill of Rights against which government policies can be benchmarked.

"Anything that Canada, North America, the United States, Britain and much of Europe, any government measure, any legislative measure must comply with fundamental human rights," Triggs said.

"We don't have that in Australia."

And she said Australians were also "very unnerved" by constant talk about the fear of terrorism and how the Government "explicitly and implicitly" links that to asylum seeker issues.

The Government and media pursuits of Professor Triggs began in earnest while Tony Abbott was Prime Minister when the Human Rights Commission conducted what was ultimately a damning national inquiry into children in offshore detention, called "The Forgotten Children".

The then Prime Minister declared he had lost confidence in Triggs and slammed the report as a political exercise.

Triggs was also a central figure in a controversial, drawn out racial discrimination case against three Queensland university students.

For her part, Triggs has "no regrets" and stands by the Commission's work in bringing "natural justice" and standing up for the rights of Australians.

"I believe we've done a terrific job. The staff: we've stuck to the facts, we know the facts are right, we know the law is right, and we're very proud of that," she said.

Conservative media have also had their own parting shots at Triggs on her final day, with Sydney radio shock jock Alan Jones tweeting, "good riddance".

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