Statement of resignation

Two years ago I was appointed Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner. I was appointed to this office to bring a fresh and important focus on the rights of the individual and freedom. That is why I was dubbed the ‘Freedom Commissioner’, a title I have held with pride.

It has been an honour to serve in this role. I have had the privilege to meet thousands of people across our nation and directly hear their concerns, work with them and seek to make positive change in our community. It has been the most invaluable experience of my life. I am a better and more experienced person for it.

I am very proud of the work that has been done. We have boosted the profile and importance of free speech and religious freedom as part of the nation’s human rights discussion. We have made the freedom of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to use their property rights for economic development a government priority.

The work we have done at the Commission is very important. The role of Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner is to start these conversations. It is up to the Parliament to finish them. It’s also the role of the Parliament to deal with many other issues that I am passionate about.

That’s why I am announcing today my intention to resign the office of Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner effective from Friday, 19 February to seek preselection to be the Liberal Party’s candidate for the Federal Electorate of Goldstein.

This is a tough decision for me, but the right one. The people of Goldstein deserve someone who will fight for them.

This is not a time to be timid. It’s a time to be bold. Our country faces big challenges: debt and deficits, high taxes and youth unemployment, to name a few.

We need people in Parliament who are prepared to take responsibility, make tough decisions and work to fix problems. I am ready to take that responsibility to protect this nation’s promise for future generations.

I’m a born and bred Melbournian. I’ve lived in Melbourne all my life; I’ve been an active Liberal Party member for nearly two decades. I’ve lived in Goldstein. I have served on the Board of the local hospital. Much of my family lives in Goldstein.

Under Liberal Party rules I can offer no further comment on seeking preselection.

I would, however, like to extend my thanks to my staff at the Australian Human Rights Commission for their support over the past two years: Dr Louise Bygrave, Laura Sweeney, Noleen Grogan, Siri May and Simone Guirguis.

I would also like to extend my thanks to my Commissioner colleagues that I have worked with over this time. In particular I would like to extend my thanks to Commissioner Mick Gooda for the important work we have done together, and which I will seek to support after the preselection regardless of the outcome.

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