The federal government is actively undermining a range of vital checks and balances and stifling criticism of its actions. This is corrosive for democracy and human rights.
It goes without saying that every government has a right to defend itself against unfair criticism, but the counter-attack being waged against the Human Rights Commission has constituted a pathological inability to accept criticism, to apologise, or to change.
Tony Abbott promised after the recent spill that “good government starts now”, but the scene for the repellent behaviour of this government was set months ago. Abbott has insisted the release of this report was a case of entirely partisan politics, but the government released it only in February 2015 after having the report in its possession since November 2014.
If you want partisan politics, look no further than hiding a report regarding the abuses and torment of children in detention for four months.
If you want partisan politics, look no further than a government whose senator chairing a committee investigating the report hasn’t even read the report.
If you want partisan politics, look no further than a prime minister who wilfully responded to a report about children being tormented and abused in detention by saying he felt “no guilt”.
Any person with a shred of dignity would feel guilt, remorse and shame.
The attacks on the Human Rights Commission and the Commissioner are nothing short of a shockingly outrageous power play, and an ongoing, systemic erosion of the powers to criticise or protest this government.