May 5 Posted 3 years ago
That's an excellent analysis of the series of events, Craig.
It also raises implicitly the question of how far statutory office holders can appropriately go in being activists for a cause closely bound up with their statutory obligations.
The Human Rights Commission - which includes the Disability Commissioner's role - has a range of obligations, including education about the Australian human rights regime. It also has a responsibility to resolve complaints under the legislation. It declares on its website that it is committed to fulfilling its mission by being, inter alia, "open, expert, committed and impartial". I would read Innes' contribution here as going for "committed" at the expense of any pretence at being "open" or "impartial". I wonder how an employer, reading this, would feel about appearing before the Commission on a complaint of disability discrimination.
In my view, however good the cause and however worthy the intention, his action is a political act and could put at risk the scope for other statutory officers to engage via social media. He and other activists would no doubt think otherwise.
And from a totally pragmatic viewpoint, surely it would not have been hard to prompt someone else, not encumbered by a mission statement declaring impartiality, to get up the petition? :)
For the record, I once - long ago - served as national director of public education for the Commission.
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