A non-apology apology, that’s how House Speaker Hon. McKeeva Bush describes Human Rights Commission chair James Austin-Smith’s response to his (Mr. Bush’s) call for an unconditional apology to the Legislature.
On Thursday (11 April) Mr. Bush told the LA he received a letter from Mr. Austin-Smith responding to his call.
Mr. Bush demanded the apology after a scathing statement from the HRC dismissed government’s appeal of the Chief Justice’s same-sex marriage ruling as unarguable.
“He offered a fauxpology for his written statement criticizing the House’s decision to support Cabinet’s decision to appeal the Chief Justice’s ruling to legalise same-sex marriage,” said Mr. Bush.
The Chairman’s letter was posted to the Commission’s website. It’s dated 8 April. In it, Mr. Austin-Smith disputed that comments in the statement were offensive.
He wrote, “I do not agree that there is anything within the press release which could have been construed as an insult or resulted in “odium, contempt, [or] ridicule” being brought upon the house, and, certainly, I can assure you that, that was not its intent.”
Mr. Austin-Smith said he had taken the time to review the proceedings in the Legislative Assembly related to this matter.
“I note the statement made by the Hon. Premier at the outset of the proceedings in which he pointed out that this issue is an emotive one; I respectfully agree and am also acutely aware of the strong feelings which it engenders,” he stated.
The HRC Chairman is set to leave the Commission at the end of his term, in six weeks time.
This was the plan before the same-sex dispute came about.
Read Mr. Bush’s full statement and letter:
Message by the Hon Speaker – 9 April 2019_2 w BHS Comments
Hon Speaker of the House’s Response to HRC Statement on Gov Appeal Decision_05 04 19
Read Mr. Austin-James’ letter:
HRC Response to Dr Bush 8 April 2019