Federal Politics

Tim Wilson to quit $400,000 'Freedom Commissioner' job to launch run for Parliament

Tim Wilson is giving up his $400,000 Human Rights Commission job after officially launching his bid to enter Parliament.

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Tim Wilson's bid for parliament

Who will Tim Wilson have to run against in the preselection for Goldstein? Fairfax's Adam Gartrell explains.

Mr Wilson has publicly confirmed he is seeking Liberal pre-selection in Andrew Robb's safe Melbourne seat of Goldstein.

He will resign as Human Rights Commissioner later this week, just two years into his five-year term, with his responsibilities to wind up at the end of the week. 

Tim Wilson is prepared to take a $200,000 pay cut to make "tough decisions".
Tim Wilson is prepared to take a $200,000 pay cut to make "tough decisions". Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

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

"This is not a time to be timid. It's a time to be bold.

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"Our country faces big challenges: debts and deficits, high taxes and youth unemployment to name a few."

Outspoken and divisive, Mr Wilson was controversially appointed to the commission by the Abbott government in 2013. He was previously a policy director for the right-wing Institute of Public Affairs think tank.

Alexander Downer's daughter, Georgina Downer, favoured Brexit.
Alexander Downer's daughter, Georgina Downer, favoured Brexit. Photo: Facebook

Attorney-General George Brandis on Monday said Mr Wilson had "single-handedly reshaped the human rights debate in Australia".

"He has restored balance to a debate which had previously been dominated by the priorities and prejudices of the Left," Senator Brandis said.

"The Australian people owe Tim Wilson a huge debt of gratitude for his passion and commitment."

Philosophically committed to freedom of speech and personal liberty, the 35-year old was dubbed the Freedom Commissioner - "a title I have held with pride".

"It has been an honour to serve in this role," he said. "I am a better and more experienced person for it."

If Mr Wilson wins pre-selection he is all but guaranteed a seat in Parliament because Goldstein is a safe Liberal seat.

But he has a fight on his hands to become the candidate. Georgina Downer - the daughter of former foreign minister Alexander Downer - is also considered a frontrunner for the spot and has the support of Mr Robb.

Local software developer Marcus Bastiaan is also likely to enter the race and is understood to have strong support across the electorate's Liberal branches.

While Mr Wilson does not live in the electorate he has strong ties to the area. Ms Downer, a lawyer turned diplomat, also lives outside the electorate.

Mr Robb surprised colleagues when he announced his retirement last week. He will stay on as a special trade envoy until the election, after which he intends to return to the private sector.

He holds Goldstein with a margin of 11 per cent.

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