Former Australian Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs speaks at the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, March 24, 2017. (AAP Image/Sam Mooy) NO ARCHIVING
Former Australian Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs speaks at the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, March 24, 2017. (AAP Image/Sam Mooy) NO ARCHIVING SAM MOOY

Gillian Triggs to speak on the 'decline of democracy'

PROFESSOR Gillian Triggs will come to the Northern Rivers for two separate events to express her concern about what she calls a "decline of democracy in Australia".

She says this was due to the fact Parliament is "weak and ineffective".

It's a concern so deep she has written a book about it.

The former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2012 to 2017 will deliver the Ngara Institute's 2018 Annual Lecture It's Time For An Australian Bill Of Rights in Mullumbimby - an event hosted by the Ngara Institute, a a not-for-profit activist think tank based on the Northern Rivers.

Then in August, Professor Triggs will offer the Thea Astley address 2018 at the Byron Writers Festival with the topic Speaking Up in a Post-Truth World.

"I am really concerned about the decline of democracy in Australia and the decline in our willingness to comply with International Human Rights Law, and with fundamental Common Law freedoms, those are my key concerns," she said.

Prof Triggs said those key concerns arose from her five years as president of the Human Rights Commission.

"That's why I have come to the view that we need a charter and that we need a better understanding of fact-based policy, and ensure that policy is fact-based."

Asked what exactly she means by a decline of democracy in Australia, Prof Triggs said she will write about it in a book called Speaking Up, set for publication later this year.

"I feel that parliament is now weak and ineffective, highly polarised and unable to ensure proper legislation and proper governance, but mainly because it fails the fundamental Common Law freedoms that we all have; these are under threat, and I think that's the element of democracy that I am most concerned," she said.

Despite all those concerns, Prof Triggs confirmed she was not planning entering the political arena any time soon.

"It's fair to say that I have had opportunities to enter the political environment, and I have declined," she said.

"I hope this doesn't sound inappropriate, but to the extent that I am known in Australia or have any reputation is essentially for a level of integrity about what I am discussing; I am not bound by party rules, or by caucus or by cabinet decisions.

"I would have a lot of trouble remaining loyal to one party because I think we need better informed policy and that's not necessary the views of either major parties.

"People are interested in listening to me at all because I am not aligned with any political party and because I am trying to do my best to present the facts and the law as accurate as I can.

"I would lose any integrity if I would join a political party."



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