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Transcript of interview with Ben Fordham: 2GB: 8 November 2016: Parliamentary Review of 18C; Gillian Triggs



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SENATOR THE HON. ERIC ABETZ LIBERAL SENATOR FOR TASMANIA

***TRANSCRIPT***

08 November 2016

INTERVIEW WITH BEN FORDHAM,

2GB

E&OE………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………

Subjects: Parliamentary Review of 18C; Gillian Triggs

BEN FORDHAM:

Eric Abetz, the Liberal Senator, is on the line. Eric Abetz, good afternoon.

SENATOR ABETZ:

Good afternoon, Ben.

BEN FORDHAM:

Good result considering the animated discussion in the Party Room today, 18 people getting their feet to speak on the issue.

SENATOR ABETZ:

Very good result. I think it’s something that the Australian people want to see. One of the precious elements of our democratic fabric is freedom of speech. What you don’t want are quasi-government authorities like the Human Rights Commission with a President that earns more than $400,000 a year presiding over an institution that drags a cartoonist, that drags three students to court to potentially be sued for $250,000. Those claims should have been thrown out, neck and crop, at the very beginning before they even got past first base.

BEN FORDHAM:

The other worrying part of this, Senator Abetz, is Professor Triggs rewriting history by saying for 12 or 13 months we were trying to mediate but we already know - the students have told everyone - they didn’t even know there was a complaint for 14 months.

SENATOR ABETZ:

The sad thing is that Gillian Triggs is going to be addressing an ACOSS conference later on, on the topic of ‘Truth Telling and living with the consequences’ and I suggested when it

became public that she should withdraw from that because of her form. It’s quite clear now, given her 7.30 Interview last night and the contact with Fairfax Media that once again her evidence or her statements aren’t robust or as robust as you would expect from 1. A Professor of Law and 2. A public figure that is being paid over $400,000 per annum. Professor Triggs has simply not lived up to that which the public and the community have a right and an expectation. As a result, I believe that her situation is becoming quite untenable. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he had lost confidence in Professor Triggs and I think it’s becoming pretty clear that the current Prime Minister, if he hasn’t done so, is very close to that point as well.

BEN FORDHAM:

Just briefly, if Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t do something about 18C, is it fair to say he’s going to have a challenge to keep the support of the Party Room?

SENATOR ABETZ:

I think section 18C will be amended. There are just so many people now, be it Warren Mundine, a former President of the ALP coming out, Labor figures, basically it’s only the extreme left wing element who are still trying to prop up Professor Triggs in all this and I think the time has come for her to just leave gracefully and acknowledge that some of her statements are not at the level and don’t have the rigour that the community has a right to expect. As for 18C, to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ I think just makes overwhelming common-sense and I think there is overwhelming support in the Party Room and more importantly in the Australian community. Freedom of speech is fundamental and just because someone can get up and say ‘I feel offended’ or ‘I feel insulted’ should not be enough to try to stop people from speaking. This is the thing with section 18C, and with the cartoonist Bill Leak and the QUT students, it is the process that they were put through or that Bill Leak is being put through as we speak, that is the punishment and as a result it stifles free speech because even if you are vindicated, like the students were, three years later your reputation is trashed, you are distracted like nothing else on earth and why is a quasi-government authority, the Human Rights Commission, pursuing its own citizens over these sorts of matters? This has to come to an end and I hope the review over the Christmas period and into Feburary will make good, sound, robust recommendations and under the chairmanship of Ian Goodenough, I am sure that is exactly what the Parliament will get.

BEN FORDHAM:

Eric Abetz, thanks for your time.

Media contact: Josh Manuatu 0458 007 177

http://abetz.com.au