Politics — 24 December 2013

Tim Wilson’s appointment as Human Rights Commissioner could see cuts to a  program on school bullying as the Australian Human Rights Commission  accommodates his six-figure salary without any extra funding from the  government.

The incoming Human Rights Commissioner, who is due to take up his position in  February, will be paid about $320,000 –  a sum equal to that of his fellow  commissioners, though less than president Gillian Triggs.

On Sunday, Professor Triggs said Mr Wilson’s salary would have to come out of  the commission’s current annual budget of about $25 million. ”This really does  squeeze the commission,” she said.bigstock-Childhood-Problems-Bullying-2392859

Professor Triggs said that she and the other commissioners would meet in  January to decide where cuts would come from to make room for Mr Wilson’s  salary, but suggested that an anti-bullying program and a program on education  for older Australians might be in the firing line.

She said that an inquiry into asylum seeker children who are held in  detention would still go ahead.

The commission had not anticipated it would have to pay Mr Wilson’s salary as  new appointees usually come with extra federal government funding, a spokesman  said.

Mr Wilson was appointed to the commission last week by Attorney-General  George Brandis, in a move that shocked the political establishment, as Mr Wilson  had been a director at the Institute of Public Affairs, which has called for the  abolition of the Human Rights Commission.

Senator Brandis said he wanted to ”restore balance” to the commission.

Along with Mr Wilson’s appointment, the Coalition has also flagged it wants  to see further reforms to the commission in the new year.

On Sunday a spokesman for Senator Brandis would not be drawn on what specific  reforms were being considered. But the spokesman confirmed  the new government  was not considering abolishing the commission altogether.

This came after Finance Minister Mathias Cormann suggested  the entire  commission could be on the chopping block. ”Over the medium to long-term, let’s  just watch this space and see what happens,” he told Sky News when asked why  the government should not abolish the whole organisation.

This article first appeared on ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 23 December 2013.


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