The Freedom To Disappear: Tim Wilson Bails On ‘Hundreds’ Of Events After Departing As Human Rights Commission


Tim Wilson, one-time highly paid Human Rights Commissioner turned Liberal pre-selection candidate for the seat of Goldstein, is a busy man these days. So busy, in fact, he’s had to let a few commitments slip.

While still on the job at the AHRC, Wilson had responsibility for LGBTI issues and, to his credit, appeared to be working in the area with quite some passion, travelling round the country and hosting community consultations.

In line with that work Wilson was billed to appear at a Queer Thinking Event in Sydney last night, part of a series of panels and talks associated with the city’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The discussion was titled ‘LGBTIQ Refugees – Australia can do more’, and promised to be an interesting trial for a man who on one hand publicly celebrates his love of freedom and, on the other, derives patronage from a political party which publicly celebrates locking-up asylum seekers.

But when the crowd rolled in to Pitt Street Uniting Church, Wilson was nowhere to be seen. As the audience peered up from the pews to hear the Reverend introduce the evening’s speakers, they were informed Wilson had somewhat unceremoniously pulled out. This had left Pitt Street Uniting in a spot of bother, forcing them to go back to the Commission with a request for assistance.

Contacted today Wilson, who is now based in Melbourne, said he couldn’t remember how much notice he had been able to give the event organisers as he had pulled out of so many events it was getting hard to honestly recall. Pushed on the exact number he had excused himself from since quitting the Commission Wilson responded: “I don’t know mate, there are hundreds of them”.

He then noted he was about to enter a meeting and suddenly hung up. A very busy man, no doubt!

But if the good folk at Pitt Street Uniting were heartbroken by Freedom Boy’s withdrawal they managed to keep their emotions in check. That is, until his replacement was introduced. Faced with disappointing the organisers, the Commission managed to deliver none other than its President Gillian Triggs to appear instead. So admired has Triggs become among Australians sympathetic to the refugee cause, she even earned a hearty cheer of approval from the Green Left Weekly vendors in the aisles, not the kind of reaction former Deans of the University of Sydney Law School usually inspire among socialist groups.

We can only hope the other events Wilson has withdrawn from reach such happy conclusions.

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.