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Triggs not offered an inducement: PM

Prime Minister Tony Abbott insists the nation’s human rights chief was neither asked to resign nor offered an inducement to do so by the government.


Federal police have been asked to examine claims a senior legal role was dangled in front of Gillian Triggs to prompt her exit as Australian Human Rights Commission president.

Labor wants the AFP to determine whether the offer constituted a bribe.

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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has accused the government of shooting the messenger over the commission’s children in immigration detention report.

“It’s tantamount to bullying,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

Mr Abbott is unrepentant about the government’s criticism of Prof Triggs, having already labelled the inquiry a “political stitch-up” and a “blatantly partisan” exercise.

But the prime minister stopped short of demanding her resignation.

“What she does is a matter for her,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“She was not asked to resign and no inducement has been offered.”

Labor and the Australian Greens are calling for the head of Attorney-General George Brandis after he ordered his departmental chief to talk to Professor Triggs about her future.

That included an offer of alternative employment with the government should she resign from the commission.

Both Senator Brandis and Mr Abbott have declared they and the government have lost confidence in the human rights chief, accusing her of political partisanship over the timing of the inquiry.

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie plans to initiate a censure motion against Senator Brandis in the upper house.

The AFP has confirmed it received a referral from shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus, and said that it would be evaluated in the usual way.

Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has dismissed a call to freeze the transfer of child asylum seekers to Nauru in the wake of unresolved sexual abuse allegations.

The immigration department this week confirmed there had been 19 reports of sexual abuse, five involving minors, on Nauru.

Yet Mr Dutton rejects suggestions it would be dangerous to return minors there.

“I don’t accept that,” he said, adding he saw the detention centre first hand last week.

The immigration department is considering the content of a review of sexual abuse and misconduct claims on Nauru.

Mr Dutton said while the review had examined “grave allegations” at a particular point in time there had been changes to security and processes in the meantime.

“One suggestion of sexual assault is one too many,” he said.

The government is moving to reduce the number of children in detention on the mainland.

Of the 126 being detained, 68 are temporarily in Australia for medical reasons and will be returned to Nauru for processing.

Another 116 children are in detention on Nauru.



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