HRC report triggers anti-Triggs bile. This week’s Australian Human Rights Commission report on the abuse of children being held in immigration detention has defenders of Australia’s hardline approach to asylum seekers on the offensive. And many conservative commentators are turning their ire on Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs.

Surging ahead of the pack was The Daily Telegraph‘s Piers Akerman, whose article “The rights and wrongs of a Labor luvvie” made not one mention of the report’s damning evidence of the toll of mandatory detention on the mental and physical wellbeing of children, instead launching a deeply personal attack on Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs over her decision years ago to give one of her children up for adoption. To Akerman, this choice — to relinquish a severely disabled child to those with more time to devote to her care — leaves Triggs utterly bereft of any moral authority, a position only reinforced by her refusal to resign over this week’s backlash. Even by Akerman’s standards — and they are low — this piece has more in common with a back-alley beating than any real attempt at informed criticism. Said Akerman:

“Since her appointment in 2012 and the subsequent change of government, she has been one of the leading spear carriers in the partisan war against the Abbott government, ­descending to levels unplumbed by Labor’s gutter-crawling parliamentary smear merchants.”

Chris Kenny was more restrained in his similarly critical op-ed in The Australian, where he at least acknowledged the bitter cost of keeping children in mandatory detention:

“Surely there is no one in the country who is not troubled by the reality of children being caught up in immigration detention, or unaware of how damaging it could be.”

Kenny may have screwed the pooch on that one though — when asked by 3AW’s Neil Mitchell if he felt any guilt over the report’s findings, Tony Abbott’s response was: “None whatsoever.”

Kenny’s scruples soon gave way to more accusations of bias and hypocrisy, saying that Triggs was more concerned about “proclaiming moral indignation” than doing anything to solve the problem.

For its front page, The Australian ran a piece giving Coalition MPs full licence to pile on Triggs with accusations of  partisanship, venting outrage at her temerity in trying to convince the public that an independent inquiry into child abuse could be anything other than a political hit job. If you’re wondering what happened to those children still in detention, you’ll find them on page 7 under the perhaps more noteworthy headline “A third of kids in detention mentally ill”. The piece’s frank assessment of the report’s findings makes its lack of prominence in the paper even more dispiriting, especially considering how eclipsed it’s been by personal attacks on Triggs. In today’s editorial, the Oz added its own voice to calls for Triggs’ resignation. — Paul Millar

Even the Poms are laughing at us. Stray item, filler, p.37 in the UK Independent:

“Flaming koalas! Australia has been invited to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest!”

Here we go. After a bit of the usual, it ends on this:

” … who should the Aussies put out to bat? …most previous Eurovision entries [are] self-centred, talentless narcissists who get a kick out of embarrassing themselves before an audience of millions. Tony Abbott it is, then.”

This is now officially out.of.control. — Guy Rundle

Changing QuadrantFormer Thatcher adviser and National Review editor John O’Sullivan has been appointed the new editor of Quadrant, as long-running editor Keith Windschuttle steps down after seven years.

In an editorial to readers, Windschuttle expressed admiration for his successor’s wealth of experience in the industry:

“From 2001 to 2003 he was editor-in-chief of United Press International, and from 2008–2011 executive editor of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in Prague. He remains editor-at-large and a frequent contributor to National Review. From 1998 to 2001 he was an editorial consultant to Hollinger International Inc and a leading member of the journalistic team that created the National Post, Canada’s first national newspaper. In the 1980s he was editorial page and op-ed editor at both the New York Post and the London Times.”

O’Sullivan is also the author of The President, the Pope and the Prime Minister, which chronicled the Avengers-style team up between Pope Saint John Paul II, Reagan and Thatcher to crush communism once and for all in the service of Western market-based democracy.

Windschuttle will remain at Quadrant Magazine Ltd in the roles of chair of the board — recently vacated by Elizabeth Prior Jonson after a 17-year run — and editor-in-chief  during O’Sullivan’s two-year tenure as editor. –Myriam Robin and Paul Millar

Don’t mention the plus-size model? “Editors seem to get very excited whenever [Robin] Lawley does something, because it means they can write a lot of guff about the success of ‘curvy’ women with ‘real bodies’,” notes Clem Ford in Daily Life, on the occasion of the Australian “plus-size” model’s appearance in Sports Illustrated‘s “swimwear” issue. Ah, the delicious Daily Life spiral, where you can write a thousand words on plus-size models as part of a plea … not to fetishise plus-size models. Editors really love that. — Crikey contributor

Ten drives over the truth. The struggling Ten Network has given us yet another version of a cost cut pitched as something special for viewers. In a release this morning the network revealed a new deal for its Formula 1 coverage — which involves a 50% cut in the number of races covered exclusively by Ten. It will now broadcast 10 races (including the Australian GP next month from Melbourne) instead of all 20. Fox Sports will do the other 10  and simulcast the 10 that Ten will be showing. As examples of spin it is about as mealy-mouthed as you can get, because Formula 1 fans will have to start paying (by taking up Fox Sports if they are not Foxtel subscribers) for all 20 races a year when before they got them for free on Ten.

The fact Ten will not have the 10 races exclusively — it will share their broadcast with Fox Sports — is glossed over in the release and presented as some sort of improvement:

“Network Ten will broadcast 10 Formula 1 races in 2015 in simulcast with FOX SPORTS. FOX SPORTS will also show another 10 Formula 1 races, with Network Ten broadcasting a 60- minute highlights program of each of those races on ONE at 9.30pm on the Monday night following the event.

“The extended deal guarantees that the key Formula 1 races will be available live on Network Ten for the next five years. It also means Australians will be able to see more Formula 1 across multiple platforms, a move that will increase the sport’s presence and popularity.”

The deal starts this season, so fans will have to move quickly if they are not already pay TV subscribers. By licensing the rights to Fox Sports, Ten gets a small income stream and reduces the cost of the Formula 1 rights — just the thing for a network wondering where next it can save money.

But Fox Sports (controlled by News Corp, of which Ten’s former chair and shareholder, Lachlan Murdoch is co-chairman with dad Rupert) is now in the box seat, as it is with the new V8 Supercar racing coverage (the one Seven had exclusively). The two motor racing deals will deepen Fox Sports and News’ presence in Australian TV content at a time when Foxtel and News is trying to boost subscription numbers in the face of the arrival of streaming video services such as Netflix. — Glenn Dyer

Audio of the day. The Indonesian government has confirmed that Australian convicted drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will be executed. Artist Ben Quilty, who has led the Mercy campaign pleading for the men to be spared from execution, spoke to Jonathan Green on RN Breakfast this morning. Click here to listen. 

Peter Fray

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