Gillian Triggs once again stands as a beacon and epitomises what ordinary people find contemptible about the sneering condescending elites such as herself .
“..Gillian Triggs wants an independent lawyer, who is mounting an inquiry, to throw out complaints by university students that their human rights were trampled by the Human Rights Commission in a racial hatred case.
In a 30-page legal document, the commission, led by Professor Triggs, describes the complaints of students Calum Thwaites and Jackson Powell as “purely speculative”, “lacking in substance” and “misconceived”.
A third student, Alex Wood, has complained separately.
The HRC calls on its own appointee to the inquiry, Angus Stewart SC, to cease the investigation involving the conduct of staff of the human rights body. The students say a finding the HRC breached their human rights would be embarrassing for Professor Triggs and her staff. Gillian Triggs to independent lawyer: drop case against us
“This is a case where it is appropriate, at an early stage of the proceeding, based on the nature of the complaints, the evidence relied on and the confirmation that no amendment … is proposed, to conclude the complaints are misconceived or lacking in substance,’’ it says. “The (HRC) submits you should not continue to inquire into the alleged acts and practices.”
The complaints by the Queensland University of Technology students that they have been treated appallingly include the HRC’s failure to notify them for 14 months they faced serious consequences under the Racial Discrimination Act’s section 18C.
- Thee delay meant the students did not know of the case while QUT, its staff and lawyers had 14 months to prepare a defence to racial hatred allegations levelled by Cindy Prior, a computer lab administrative officer.
The students lacked funds or time to get legal advice or achieve a resolution, resulting in the case escalating to the Federal Circuit Court where it is undetermined.
The students, who deny wrongdoing, are accused of causing offence under section 18c to Ms Prior, who turned them away from a computer lab in QUT’s Oodgeroo Unit because they were white. Ms Prior, who is indigenous, seeks more than $250,000 in damages because of hurt and offence she says she suffered from posts by the students who described the May 2013 ejection from the computer lab on a university-linked Facebook page.
She says the stress she has suffered has left her unable to work for more than 2½ years.
After Professor Triggs asked Mr Stewart to investigate the complaints, the students objected because of his legal help to Aboriginal land corporations, and his purported links as a student in South Africa to the African National Congress in the 1980s.
The HRC’s position that there should be no investigation into the complaints will be contested by Brisbane-based barristers Tony Morris QC and Michael Henry on behalf of the students.
“A complaint should be found to be misconceived or lacking in substance where it presents ‘no more than a remote possibility of merit or which does not more than hint at a just claim’,’’ the commission states in its rebuttal.
“Further, a complaint should be found to be misconceived or lacking in substance where the complainants do not have sufficient material to show that they have ‘more than a remote possibility’ of a well-founded claim.
“The commission submits that you should decide not to continue to inquire into the alleged acts and practices to the extent that it is said that they are inconsistent with or contrary to the right to ‘equality before the law’ in article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on the basis that this aspect of the complaints is misconceived and lacking in substance.
“The commission submits that you should decide not to continue into each of the acts and practices alleged on the ground that they are not inconsistent with or contrary to any human right and that the complaints are misconceived and lacking in substance.”
A key part of the students’ complaint is that the HRC treated them differently to QUT because the university was a “powerful and wealthy organisation which was represented by a major firm of solicitors and had the financial capacity to negotiate a generous settlement in favour of Prior”.
They say they were studying or looking for work, had “no substantial wealth or assets”, were not at the time being legally represented and lacked “financial capacity to negotiate a generous settlement in favour of Prior”.
The HRC said in its legal reply that it “had no knowledge and could not have had knowledge of the extent of the wealth or assets of the (students) or whether they had engaged lawyers”. Judge Michael Jarrett has reserved his decision since a March 11 hearing at which the students sought to have the case dismissed.