Mark Dreyfus MP

Member for Isaacs
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Human Rights Commission Appointment

06 September 2021

 At a time when our intelligence agencies are battling against what they describe as an unprecedented rise in dangerous extremism Mr Morrison’s Government has appointed as the Human Rights Commissioner a person who believes our long-standing protections against racist hate speech place a ‘heavy burden’ on ‘the implied freedom of political communication’. 

MARK DREYFUS
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
 
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION APPOINTMENT

 At a time when our intelligence agencies are battling against what they describe as an unprecedented rise in dangerous extremism Mr Morrison’s Government has appointed as the Human Rights Commissioner a person who believes our long-standing protections against racist hate speech place a ‘heavy burden’ on ‘the implied freedom of political communication’. 
 
In 2017 Lorraine Finlay was nominated as a “reliably conservative appointment” by the Institute of Public Affairs, which has campaigned to abolish the Human Rights Commission.
 
Ms Finlay is a longstanding critic of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. She published an opinion piece in support of Tony Abbott’s failed attack on our nation’s long-standing protections against racist hate speech and attacking 18C is the subject of one of the two books she has co-authored as an academic. 
 
We in Labor will never forget what happens when racist hate speech is endorsed by government as an acceptable part of a nation’s political conversation. 
 
Labor is also concerned at a time when so many are calling for national reconciliation with First Nations Australians, including former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Murray Gleeson AC QC, Ms Finlay has also denounced the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, as “political segregation” in an IPA advertisement.
 
At a time when serious action is needed to end sexual violence against women, many Australians will also be rightly concerned Ms Finlay has denounced the affirmative consent model on sexual assault laws as undermining due process and the presumption of innocence.
 
The Liberals began their eight long years in government attacking the Human Rights Commission from within by appointing Tim Wilson, a Liberal Party member who had called for the Commission to be abolished.
 
Now, another Liberal Attorney-General has handed another Liberal Party member with highly conservative views a $400,000 a year five-year term on the Commission.
 
The Australian Human Rights Commission plays a vital role in our nation, and should not be used by the Liberals as a place to wage their culture wars.
 
MONDAY, 6 SEPTEMBER 2021