News National Malcolm Turnbull defends ‘distinguished’ Triggs
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Malcolm Turnbull defends ‘distinguished’ Triggs

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Coalition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull has described Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs as a “distinguished academic” and says the recent criticism of her “misses the point”.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Attorney-General George Brandis criticised Prof Triggs after the commission published a damning report on children in immigration detention that they described as “a blatantly partisan, politicised exercise”.

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The Federal Opposition last night asked the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to investigate if the offer of other work for Prof Triggs was an inducement to resign and could constitute corrupt and unlawful conduct.

Prof Triggs revealed on Tuesday during a senate estimates hearing that Mr Brandis’ department asked her to resign during a meeting on February 3.

Mr Brandis yesterday confirmed he had asked for Prof Triggs’ resignation, while Mr Abbott admitted in parliament that the government had “lost confidence” in in her.

But Mr Turnbull said the focus should on the welfare of the children concerned, not on personalities.

“I’m not going to buy into this discussion about Gillian Triggs… she’s a very distinguished legal academic,” he said.

“I knew her when she was the dean of law at Sydney University.

“The issue is not Gillian Triggs or personalities or arguments about the Human Rights Commission.

“The issue is the children.”

In Tuesday morning’s senate estimates, Mr Brandis said he had lost confidence in Prof Triggs in mid January and wanted her to resign, saying the commission “has to be like Caesar’s wife” and “beyond blemish”.

“It saddens me to say that because as Prof Triggs herself has said, our relationship has never been anything other than cordial,” he said.

He confirmed he “hoped Professor Triggs could be encouraged or would be willing to serve the government in other capacities”.

Mr Abbott said it was “absolutely crystal clear this inquiry by the president of the Human Rights Commission is a political stitch-up”.

The Federal Opposition last night asked the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to investigate if the offer of other work for Prof Triggs was an inducement to resign and could constitute corrupt and unlawful conduct.

Prof Triggs revealed on Tuesday during a senate estimates hearing that Mr Brandis’ department asked her to resign during a meeting on February 3.

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