Flanked by the inevitable Australian flags, Minister Dutton accused Professor Triggs of linking the execution of the Bali Nine drug smugglers with Australia's border protection policies.
The attack started with a joint media release with Attorney-General Senator George Brandis. The Attorney-Generals' name came first on the release, suggesting a continuation of the battle between he and Professor Triggs. However, it was Minister Dutton who appears to have gone over the top.
Michael Gordon's piece begins:
It says a great deal about the state of relations between the government and the country's human rights watchdog that a cabinet minister would call a media conference and launch a blistering attack on its head without checking the facts of the issue in question.
Had Immigration Minister Peter Dutton had his office make some cursory checks, it would have been established that Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs did not link the deaths of Bali drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to the Abbott government's policy of turning back the boats.
I have no faith that these growing powers won't be misused by this or future governments of any persuasion. I have no faith that there won't be victims, people who may have to fight sometimes vainly for justice against the law. How could I have faith? History including recent history is not encouraging.
Each time I see a government minister flanked by flags attacking an opponent, saying we know best, arguing for a new control or punitive measure, my fear increases. Will I or someone I love or know become just another person whose fate cannot be discussed for operational reasons?
Am I being too fearful, even histrionic? Perhaps. Perhaps I am just to close to history, to close to the creeping cancer that has seen the creation of totalitarian states in which freedom and rights have been progressively removed until it was just too late. Perhaps, too, I read to many dystopian science fiction novels as a young person.
In a comment on my personal Facebook page, I wrote "Once it's established that Government can take our citizenship away, where do you draw the line? I am an Australian That is not a right, a favour or an honour, but a fact."
By nature, I can be persuaded by argument to at least understand if not support measures. You can see that in some of my immigration posts. From experience, I am well aware of the grays in policy making, the ambiguities, the very real risk that something might go wrong, the need to make the best decision you can at the time. So if the current Australian Government wishes to reach me, present the evidence.
Seeing Mr Dutton effectively wrap himself in the Australian flag made me feel unwell, adding to my sense of unease.You may play political games if you like, Minister Dutton, but I find it hard to trust you.
Amanda Vanstone on the evolving general discussion: Lazy, sneaky or both: what were you thinking, Prime Minister?. And Michelle Grattan: Brandis and Dutton play some dirty pool in their fight with Gillian Triggs.
Postscript 2 13 June
There appear to be some legal problems associated with the draft "citizenship" legislation while an Australian official may have bribed people smugglers to go back to Indonesia, . .