Q & A with Gillian Triggs - Author of Speaking Up
"Get your facts right and speak up!"
As president of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs advocated for the disempowered, the disenfranchised, the marginalised. She withstood relentless political pressure and media scrutiny as she defended the defenceless for five tumultuous years. How did this aspiring ballet dancer, dignified daughter of a tank commander and eminent law academic respond when appreciative passengers on a full airplane departing Canberra greeted her with a round of applause?
Speaking Up shares with readers the values that have guided Triggs' convictions and the causes she has championed. She dares women to be a little vulgar and men to move beyond their comfort zones to achieve equity for all. And she will not rest until Australia has a Bill of Rights. Triggs' passionate memoir is an irresistible call to everyone who yearns for a fairer world.
Describe your memoir in three words.
Human rights in Australia.
What inspired you to write Speaking Up?
I wrote this book on human rights in Australia as I wanted to reach a wider audience to explain in plain words how our freedoms are being eroded. I hoped that more Australians understand why the rule of law is so important in protecting democracy and individual freedoms and raise their voices in the public debate.
Tell us about your writing routine. Where do you like to write? When and how often?
This motivation gave me the energy to write about 2000 words a day for 10 weeks. I started early in the morning staying in the high country near Mount Bulla, with the dog Oscar at my feet. I found it slow to start, but once I got going the words flew across the page. As soon as I reached my target of words, I could have the rest of the day off! I can’t say I really enjoy writing, but it is satisfying to be both legally accurate and hold a reader’s attention.
How much has the context of your book changed since it was first published in October 2018?
The protection of human rights globally has regressed even further as so many governments have used the COVID-19 pandemic as camouflage for more repressive policies that may be entrenched long after the virus has subsided. Since 2018, the number of refugees and people displaced with their own country or stateless has jumped from around 60 million to 80 million today.
What are you currently reading?
I am reading Mary Beard’s SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome and John le Carre’s latest, Agent Running in the Field.
What is in your to-be-read pile?
Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and anything by Trollope.
What message do you want to leave with readers of your book? And has this message become more important in our current climate?
Yes, the message is more important than ever… get your facts right and speak up!