Human Rights Commission Facing Stealth Cuts

President of the Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs has this morning confirmed that Attorney-General George Brandis has not guaranteed additional funding to cover an increased number of Commissioner appointments, effectively delivering the Commission a backdoor cut of $700,000.

 THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION FACING STEALTH CUTS

 

President of the Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs has this morning confirmed that Attorney-General George Brandis has not guaranteed additional funding to cover an increased number of Commissioner appointments, effectively delivering the Commission a backdoor cut of $700,000.

 

The Human Rights Commission has already been made subject to a selective efficiency dividend of more than $2 million over four years, and cannot operate at full capacity.

 

If extra Commissioners are appointed without additional funding, Professor Triggs has told a Senate Estimates committee today that other jobs will have to go to compensate.

 

“I believe we do not have funding for us to properly meet our statutory obligations. Funding has declined over many years but in particular we’ve had some funding cuts that are very significant,” Professor Triggs said.

 

“Every cut that might seem relatively small in fact makes it more difficult for us to meet the standards of excellence that we need to meet.”

 

Professor Triggs said the Commission was already struggling to cope with the 23,000 complaints or inquiries it receives each year, and the conciliation processes which follow.

 

It is vitally important that the Human Rights Commission has enough funding to fulfil its duties under the law, given it is facing an increasing number of complaints, which is the bulk of its work.

 

This government has a history of attacking the Human Rights Commission and its President, giving little reason to trust that Senator Brandis will do the right thing and fully fund the new Commissioner.

 

Senator Brandis must pledge extra funding to support the additional Commissioner when the promised announcement of three new Commissioners eventually comes. He cannot pretend to be a friend of the Commission by returning a full complement of Commissioners while at the same time delivering a backdoor $700,000 cut.

 

THURSDAY, 5 MAY 2016