The Daily Telegraph‘s Sharri Markson has gone hard on Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs for the gall of speaking at the seventh annual Hobart Oration at the end of this month, an event put on by the Bob Brown Foundation.

The $50-per-head event is just covers costs for the event, but because Bob Brown is the former leader of the Greens, Markson has Immigration Minister Peter Dutton in the article calling for Triggs to cancel her speech or step aside from her job. The Australian has followed up this morning with a quote from Liberal Senator Eric Abetz along the same lines. You didn’t see this sort of fuss from Liberal politicians when Tim Wilson, now the Liberal member for Goldstein, spoke at political party events as Human Rights Commissioner. In 2015, Wilson was a speaker at a Liberal Victoria party branch event. He subsequently revealed he had spoken at Liberal Party events, Greens events, Liberal Democratic Party events, and Country Liberal Party events on the same proviso as Triggs — that it was not a fundraising event. Where was the same outrage and calls to stand aside from Dutton?

A spokesperson for the Bob Brown Foundation told Crikey that the orations were not fundraisers, and historically they have run at a loss. He said it was run by the foundation, not the Greens, because the Greens gave up running the event years ago because it was running a loss. It is purely a community event and has previously heard from eminent speakers including David Suzuki, Professor Brian Schmidt, and founder Bill McKibben. In a statement, Brown said The Daily Telegraph had not bothered to contact him about the event before today’s hit piece.

“No one has ever complained before The Daily Telegraph, which has not been in contact with me. Perhaps it should concentrate on it what it does so well, censoring public comment in Sydney,” Brown said.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey