Triggs out : Zimmerman in for Human Rights leadership

Posted by on June 18, 2017

A call for real change at the Human Rights Commission.



What’s the chance this wimpish Turnbull government will make a brave decision about the replacement for Gillian Triggs? Yes, I know the most sensible decision would be to close the whole place down. As if that’s going to happen….


But there’s a good chance that if some of the names being floated were to end up with the gig we could see more of the same appalling leadership we saw under Triggs.


That’s why we need your help to lobby politicians to try to promote the one candidate who might actually start protecting human rights for everyone in this country – Augusto Zimmermann. 

Zimmermann, a WA Law Reform Commissioner, recently appeared on the Bolt Report to make the case for his candidature, and spoke eloquently about wanting the commission to protect Australians' right to free speech, not hinder it.

This brave man has also been a one man band fighting against the introduction of increasingly draconian domestic violence laws in WA. Back in 2013 Zimmermann’s Law Reform Commission was asked by the government to consider changes which expanded the definition of violence to include emotional and financial abuse while further removing legal protections for people accused of this violence.

The final report from the Commission rejected such moves, noting they were likely to exacerbate the already existing problem of abuse of violence restraining orders which are commonly used for tactical purposes in family law litigation. The Commission’s report also spoke out against the proposed inclusion of emotional and psychological abuse within the definition of family violence.

As Zimmermann points out in a series of articles he has had published on this issue such restraining orders can be used to evict a man from his home, to deny contact with his children. “These orders lack the proper application of due process and they are often granted on a ‘without admissions’ basis which means no evidence needs to be produced. If these so-called  ‘reforms’ become law they will inevitably lead to the further undermining of basic rights to natural justice, property rights and parental rights in this state,” he wrote.

That is just what is happening. The government passed the problematic legislation and to make matters worse the law now includes not just acts of violence but behaviour which might “intimidate, coerce and control.”

So under the new laws it is not even necessary to demonstrate domestic violence has occurred. Action can now be taken before that point, simply on the basis that someone fears that the alleged control or intimidation could escalate into violence. “That’s an extraordinary shift, undermining one of the foundations of the rule of law, namely that one is innocent until proven guilty,” says Zimmermann.

He’s one of the very few people in WA speaking out about this issue. So quite apart from his excellent record for scholarly works on human rights, Zimmermann has the courage of his convictions and is fighting very publicly against new laws so often being used to destroy men’s lives.

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