March 18, 2016

This morning the Turnbull Government quietly advertised for a Disability Discrimination Commissioner. But the advertisement provides more questions than answers.

In 2014 George Brandis unceremoniously sacked Graeme Innes as Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner all so Mr Brandis could give his Liberal Party mate, Tim Wilson, a taxpayer-funded job at the Human Rights Commission.


Now they are advertising for three positions - a Disability Commissioner, Age Discrimination Commissioner and Human Rights Commissioner. But the advertisement says without explanation there will be five total commissioners plus the President rather than the statutory seven required by the Human Rights Commission Act 1986.


Will they sack or seek to merge more Commissioner positions in the Budget? How will they fund these new roles? Nobody knows, and if its recent chaotic performance is any guide, that probably includes the government.


Labor calls on the Turnbull Government to make clear how many commissioners it plans to appoint to the Human Rights Commission and how they will be funded.


Importantly the Government must say whether it plans to sack or merge existing Commissioner positions.

The Liberals should never have made such a mess of appointments to the Human Rights Commission in the first place. Sacking the Disability Discrimination Commissioner silenced a powerful voice for Australians with disability.


It says everything about the priorities of the Liberal Government that they appointed a Commissioner for wind farms but sacked a Commissioner for people with disability.


Labor has campaigned for two years to restore a disability discrimination commissioner, alongside people with disability, their families and advocates.


People with disability deserve to have a strong voice at the Human Rights Commission once again.


As the National Disability Insurance Scheme is rolling out, it is more important than ever for people with disability to have a Commissioner devoted to advocating their interests and protecting their rights.




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