Powers for Australian Border Force 'disrespect human dignity'


Gillian Triggs: powers for Australian Border Force 'disrespect human dignity'


The federal parliament has failed the people by passing dozens of laws that infringe on Australians’ rights, Gillian Triggs has said.


The president of the Australian Human Rights Commission delivered a lecture in Darwin on Thursday night on the creeping powers of government and how they infringe on civil liberties.

She said it was “particularly troubling” that the major political parties had agreed with each other in a “complicit and compliant parliament” to pass laws threatening civil and human rights, compounded by the militarisation of the government and criminalisation of behaviour that had previously been legal.  She cited dozens of new laws, including the metadata retention laws, foreign fighter laws, mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees, paperless arrests, and laws banning doctors and people in public employment from speaking about conditions in detention centres.

Triggs said no MPs in the House of Representatives challenged the laws giving the Australian Border Force additional powers, such as those it wanted to use during the raids planned for Melbourne last weekend in cracking down on antisocial behaviour and visa breachers.

She said the only people in the upper house to object were Greens senators Sarah Hanson-Young and Scott Ludlam.

“Parliament has not stood up for the rights of ordinary Australians, they have not spoken up to ensure that the government complies with the freedoms we take for granted,” Triggs said.

“I’m afraid we’ve turned a blind eye to what’s happening to the children and their families and what’s happening in the Manus and Nauru detention centres because it was too far away and we didn’t see it, but when the same Border Force officials are starting to exercise some of their perceived powers in our shopping malls, we start to see the very same disrespect for human dignity and freedoms actually now being turned back on to Australian citizens themselves,” Triggs said.

“When we allow the rights of others to be abused, that will turn back on us and our rights will be abused.”