Next Human Rights Commissioner appointed

On behalf of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, the Commission’s President, has welcomed the appointment of the Commission’s seventh Commissioner, Mr Tim Wilson.

“As a new Commissioner, Mr Wilson will join our team of six other Commissioners, headed by me as President,” said Professor Triggs. “We all look forward to Mr Wilson’s fresh voice in our discussions and collegiate development of Commission policies.”

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Executive Director, Hugh de Kretser, said the public debates about the last two appointments to the AHRC, Tim Soutphommasane and Tim Wilson, highlighted the need to establish a transparent, independent, public process to appoint future Commissioners.

“The internationally agreed minimum standards for national human rights bodies mandate independence from government. We need to ensure an independent, transparent and merit-based approach to future appointments,” said Mr de Kretser.

Mr de Kretser also said it was vital that Mr Wilson respect the independence of the Commission.

“The role isn’t about ‘advancing the government’s freedom agenda’ as Mr Wilson has said, but rather implementing the independent mandate of the Commission under its legislation,” said Mr de Kretser.

Mr Kretser said he did not want to prejudge Mr Wilson’s contribution.

“Some of his comments around racial vilification and discrimination laws reveal a concerning approach to the protection of human rights, but his position on freedom of association and Queensland bikie laws are welcome as well as his support of marriage equality. Overall, I’m confident that he will be happy to engage in the debate around these issues,” said Mr de Kretser said.

Ms Triggs said Mr Wilson is particularly concerned to support liberal approaches to freedom of speech.

“We look forward to having him join our team as we continue to meet the challenges of protecting human rights in Australia,” said Ms Triggs. Mr Wilson is expected to commence his tenure of Human Rights Commissioner in February.