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Federal

Feb 16, 2016

Water cannons and blowjob receipts: the adventures of Freedom Boy, possible member for Goldstein

A few of Tim Wilson's greatest hits.

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Tributes poured in for Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson on Monday after he confirmed that he would, as Crikey suggested on Friday, resign and put up his hand for the blue-ribbon seat of Goldstein at the next election.

In just two years on the Human Rights Commission, Wilson “single-handedly reshaped the human rights debate in Australia”, restoring balance to a debate that had been “dominated by the priorities and prejudices of the left”, according to Attorney-General George Brandis, who appointed Wilson to the role with no selection process. Brandis went on to say that Australians “owe Tim Wilson a huge debt of gratitude”, over and above his $400,000 annual taxpayer-funded wage.

The Human Rights Commission notes in its announcement of Wilson’s departure that his achievements in his two years in the role include:

  • Hosting a religious freedom round table;
  • Hosting a free speech symposium; and
  • Working with Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda on promoting economic development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

As a de facto LGBTI commissioner, Wilson (who is gay) also launched a report on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex rights, and he also launched a guide concerning the treatment of LGBTI people at university. According to the Human Rights Commission’s website, he gave 21 official speeches in his time as commissioner.

The Australian today has lauded Wilson for deciding to resign his role as commissioner in order to pursue a political career, a salvo aimed at Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs for the perception that she has politicised her role. But during his time as commissioner, Wilson, who resigned from the Liberal Party to take up the HRC post, was always careful not to speak too stridently against any particular government action.

This was most obvious when Wilson effectively joined the Abbott government’s campaign against the ABC and Q&A last year, stating that Q&A should be “ashamed” for giving Zaky Mallah, who had been charged but not convicted of terrorism offences, a platform to ask questions on the show. At the timed Wilson also claimed that no one was calling for Mallah to be censored or silenced, while the government was doing just that.

Wilson also defended SBS’ decision to sack football journo Scott McIntyre for his Anzac Day tweets (after then-communications minister Malcolm Turnbull complained to SBS), painting the matter as a contractual issue between McIntyre and SBS, rather than a free speech issue.

He spoke against the mandatory data retention legislation, but stopped short of calling for the legislation to be scrapped, instead proposing safeguards and stating it wasn’t 1984 come to life.

Wilson was more than happy to rail against Labor’s internet filter, but was much more reserved when the Coalition government passed legislation to allow some websites to be blocked if they infringe on copyright, instead just calling for certain safeguards.

Wilson was lauded by the Australian Christian Lobby for defending the rights of religious groups to discriminate against gay people.

He also said those who wanted to see what we were getting into with the Trans-Pacific Partnership before Australia signed the agreement were just trying to “derail the process”.

Wilson infamously tweeted in 2011 that Occupy protesters were just “time wasters” and it was time to “send in the water cannons”. He has subsequently stated this was a joke.

When the Immigration Department accidentally made public personal details of asylum seekers, Wilson said simply the result had been “undesirable“.

Most recently, during a Hypotheticals-style panel discussion on asylum seekers in January, Wilson alleged that some male asylum seekers had been known to go to a brothel, “get a blowjob” from a male sex worker, get a receipt for the services, and then attempt to use that as evidence that they were gay and would be prosecuted if they were returned to their country of origin. Sex workers Crikey spoke to said that was absurd — brothels rarely give receipts and never specify services rendered and the gender of the provider — and lawyers for asylum seekers could not provide any instances of this happening. Wilson responded to the controversy by stating that the comments should be seen in the context of explaining that sexual activity cannot be used as the basis for seeking to claim asylum. Crikey sought clarification from the Human Rights Commission at the time the comments were made but did not receive a response to multiple requests.

Wilson was doing the rounds in several interviews yesterday in his last week in the Human Rights Commissioner job. He has been careful to point out that under Liberal Party rules, he can only talk about his resignation from the Human Rights Commission, and after this week he will no longer be able to speak publicly about the preselection process until it has been finalised. Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett has criticised Wilson for betraying the spirit of the rules, and told the ABC he would be backing Wilson’s rival, Alexander Downer’s daughter Georgina, for Goldstein preselection. Goldstein has been solidly Liberal since its creation in 1984. Retiring member Andrew Robb held onto the seat with 61% of the vote to Labor’s 39% at the last election.

Asked yesterday what would happen if he failed in preselection and found himself without a job, Wilson said simply that “fortune favours the brave”.

Josh Taylor — Journalist

Josh Taylor

Journalist

Josh is Crikey’s general reporter covering politics, immigration, technology, the environment and, well, just about everything. Josh joined Crikey in 2015 after being lured away from his role as an award-winning technology journalist for ZDNet.

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17 comments

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17 thoughts on “Water cannons and blowjob receipts: the adventures of Freedom Boy, possible member for Goldstein

  1. Nicholas Fisher

    What will happen if he ‘finds himself without a job’?

    One of his cushy mates will give him a $400k job for doing absolutely nothing, again.

    Because, you know, meritocracy and stuff.

  2. Peggy Sanders

    The George Brandis “lunch a lot” group of male lawyers, enjoy $1,000 a head extravaganzas in Paris on the public purse. First class travel with the partner. It’s a wonder George Pell didn’t drop in from Rome. Or did he? Nothing is too good for this lot.

  3. Peggy Sanders

    This IPA plant by the LNP neoliberal government was and is a corrupt disgrace. The brazen arrogance of George Brandis giving this position to one of his lawyer male club, is morally and ethically reprehensible.

  4. Norman Hanscombe

    It’s no surprise that the Crikey Commissariat and its loyal devotees still show no sign of understanding the concept of Human Rights, but it’s sad to think about what genuine causes lose out because of it.

  5. Grumpy Old Sod

    We’re certainly scraping the bottom of the barrel with this one.

  6. JayDee

    If Freedom Boy doesn’t get the political gig, there’s always the ABC to find him a spot on TV/radio. After all they gave Bolt a gig in the interest of ‘balance’.

  7. AR

    Good riddance, he would never have accepted the position if he had a shred of integrity though that was already known, given his previous (and future) berth ensconced in the IPA.
    It would be nice if he won the preselection and lost the seat but otherwise we are looking at yet another Downer – has the country not suffered enough from the previous pair?

  8. Draco Houston

    Freedom Boy!

    The man was living the dream, 400k a year specifically to do nothing.

    It was amazing to see people try to guild this turd. He was the living embodiment of Tits On A Bull. He acted against everything he argued before taking the role. If his preselection bid doesn’t lead to a nomination, he’ll be back at the IPA in short order. Ready to tell any ALP government that gets in to do everything he could and would not do.

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Freedom Boy.

  9. Jaybuoy

    Oh no what’s to become of our human rights if Tim resigns ..Don’t worry Phil the new special envoy is on the job..

  10. christine gibson

    this man is a disgrace and the country will be poorer if he is elected to parliament.

  11. James O'Neill

    “He also said those who wanted to see what we were getting into with the Trans-Pacific Partnership before Australia signed the agreement were just trying to “derail the process”.
    There are many reasons to applaud seeing the back of this man as Human Rights Commissioner, but the above quote captures his sheer arrogance and idiocy (therefore a perfect Liberal candidate) better than almost anything else.
    He was saying in effect, trust the government. Those with even the least exposure to government doing deals in secret know that that is the last thing any sane person would do.

  12. John Newton

    Can we check his receipts?

  13. zut alors

    I suspect ‘the brave’ will still qualify for favours from people in high places should the quest in Goldstein prove to be a fizzer.

    The litany of outstanding accomplishments whilst Human Rights Commissioner is guaranteed to take Wilson anywhere the Liberals (or their sponsors) choose to place him. In fact, having read through his triumphs, it’s surprising Tony Abbott didn’t grant him a knighthood.

  14. klewso

    Paddy, there’s always IPA – which he hadn’t left* in spirit.

    (*Sorry for swearing Tim)

  15. paddy

    Timmy without a job would be a fine outcome for both Goldstein and the nation.

  16. klewso

    I suppose he’ll be back on Q&A before the election? … Publicity and all?

  17. klewso

    “Toady’s mole”.

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