Gillian Triggs examines Australia's human rights record.
Gillian Triggs, former President of the Human Rights commission, uses her years of experience and learning to discuss at length a range of human rights issues that she cares deeply about, everything from the treatment of asylum seekers right through to the marriage equality vote.
The main concern of Speaking Up is how Australian parliaments are encroaching upon the liberties that we have inherited over the centuries as part of the common law. For example, the federal parliament has laws that allows asylum seekers to be detained indefinitely and yet the Magna Carta (drafted in 1215 to put a check on the executive power of kings) prohibits imprisonment without charge. Writes Triggs, “The common law has become an insubstantial spectre with little capacity to restrain parliamentary excesses.”
Speaking Up puts its case calmly and confidently. It provides a thorough and reasoned survey of Australia's human rights record, finding that further vigilance is required to meet the country's obligations.
Whether you agree with Triggs's analysis or not, this is a formidable book that can't be ignored. Important and timely, Speaking Up is mandatory reading for those interested in the law, democracy and human rights.
Speaking Up, by Gillian Triggs. Published by Melbourne University Press. ISBN: 9780522873511 RRP: $45
Review by Chris Saliba
North Melbourne Books