"The Morrison government’s handpicked appointment of a new human rights
commissioner, Lorraine Finlay, threatens to undermine the independence and
legitimacy of the Australian Human Rights Commission itself.
It could also damage Australia’s credibility on the international stage and
lead to a downgrading of our commission by the body that serves as a watchdog
for human rights commissions around the world.
National human rights institutions are independent, legal bodies established by
parliaments, which use the powers of the state to promote and protect human
The maintenance of this independence is critical. Human rights commissions
often tread a fine line in ensuring they have support and adequate funding from
governments, while also maintaining the ability to freely criticise them.
If these bodies are to do their jobs well, their leaders must be prepared to
offend their governments and have the independence to do so.
This is less likely to happen if the senior appointments within the institution
are politically engineered, rather than the result of an open and competitive
process. The Coalition government has a poor track record on this, and Finlay’s
appointment is just the latest example of this."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics