I don’t think Tony Abbott understands what the Human Rights
Commission does. He probably doesn’t even understand the general concept
of human rights, as was evidenced in a radio interview this morning.
Yesterday, the Human Rights Commission called for a Royal Commission
into children in detention, following a long string of disturbing of
assault and self-harm.
But, what Tony Abbott said in response was simply disgusting.
Abbott said the Human Rights Commission ought to be “ashamed of itself.” He actually said that.
Should the Human Rights Commission be ashamed of itself for being a
voice for the voiceless? Or does he want them to feel ashamed of ruining
his policy agenda and making Australians aware of what is happening
under the watch of his government?
But then again, Tony Abbott doesn’t have compassion, like most of us
do. He doesn’t even see a problem with putting children in prisons when
they haven’t even committed a crime.
Abbott labelled the recommendation a blatant attack on his
government. Sure, that’s what it is – and rightly so. The Human Rights
Commission, and the rest of us have every right to attack the government
for human rights violations.
He seemed to think the most compassionate thing to do would be to
“stop the boats.” I’m not sure what compassion is exercised there in
stopping people fleeing persecution.
Abbott later went on to ask “where was the Human Rights Commission
during the life of the former government when hundreds of people were
drowning at sea?”
I think Tony Abbott is forgetting that it is a human right to seek
asylum. What human rights are being breached in allowing people to seek
asylum in Australia? Maybe he feels threatened by them, and feels his
human rights are being violated.
This government’s attitude aside, this report is horrifying. It is
most certainly compelling enough to warrant the establishment of a Royal
Commission. Further investigating is required. There is likely so much
we still do not know.
The most sensible thing would be to establish this Royal Commission. I
know this government hasn’t had much success in the past in using Royal
Commissions to score political points, but this is a Royal Commission
that would actually have meaning.
Under this government’s watch, children are attempting suicide. They
are harming themselves. They are being sexually assaulted. And all of it
could be avoided. What is going so wrong that is causing this? We need
If the policy is to remain the same (which I don’t think it should), at the very least, changes need to be made.
This government needs to find its heart, and listen to the Human
Rights Commission. They are the ones tasked with dealing with human
rights, not a prime minister who lacks compassion and empathy.
You can follow Torin Peel’s commentary and analysis on Twitter, @torin