The federal government is already preparing to replace the embattled Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs, with planning under way to choose her successor.
Professor Triggs is set to be recalled to Parliament to face another grilling from Coalition senators after she acknowledged misleading a Senate inquiry this week by impugning the reputation of a journalist who reported critical comments she made about Australian politicians.
Professor Triggs' appointment is due to expire in the first half of 2017 and, in the words of a senior government source, "by the time people are coming backing from their Christmas holidays the selection process will be well under way and she'll only have a couple of months left".
"She's bloody hopeless and she stands condemned [for misleading the inquiry]."
The Human Rights Commission president has regularly clashed publicly with the Coalition but the government appears to have decided it is better to ride out her final months in the job, because of the legal protections her job carries.
Professor Triggs told a Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday she believed an interview she gave to The Saturday Paper had been reported inaccurately, taken out of context and doctored by the newspaper's editors.
But a recording of the interview revealed the transcript to be accurate, according to the paper's editor Erik Jensen, prompting Professor Triggs to backflip on her accusations and correct her testimony to the Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee.
"Upon further reflection I accept that the article was an accurate excerpt from a longer interview. I had no intention of questioning The Saturday Paper's journalistic integrity," she said in a statement.
"I have today written to the committee to clarify my statement. I answered questions regarding the article in good faith and based on my best recollection."
Despite the resignation in Coalition ranks that she will serve out her term, Coalition MPs rounded on her again on Thursday, with a general view among MPs that the issue was very serious.
Liberal senator Ian Macdonald, who interrogated Professor Triggs on Tuesday and in previous Senate estimates hearings, said he was "appalled that a senior statutory officer, highly paid by the taxpayer, would what seems to be deliberately mislead the Senate committee".
He said she would be given the opportunity to explain herself and "depending on what happens" the matter may be referred to a privileges committee.
"This is a very serious matter," Liberal senator Eric Abetz told Fairfax Media. "I would invite the Senate committee to establish the facts as to whether the recording as reported is correct.
"If it is correct then Ms Triggs has more than a bit of explaining to do. It is not looking good for her and it is not the first time she has embroiled herself in public controversy. Sadly a pattern is emerging."
Liberal MP Michael Sukkar was more blunt. "She's unfit for the office she holds," he said.
Labor senator Louise Pratt, however, defended the commission president and said she had endured "more than five hours of questioning before the committee, during which she was persistently questioned about conversations that she did not have transcripts of".
"Of course witnesses should always be truthful, and where made aware that their evidence is not true, correct the record as soon as possible, just as Professor Triggs has done."
Attorney-General George Brandis and former prime minister Tony Abbott declined to comment.
In the interview in question, Professor Triggs lambasted Australian legislators as "seriously ill-informed and uneducated", particularly about international law and the rule of law. "They don't even understand what democracy is," she said.
The human rights boss also expressed frustration about a fiery Senate estimates hearing last year, in which she was grilled for nine hours about alleged political bias and her controversially timed Forgotten Children report.
"I knew I could have responded and destroyed them – I could have said, 'You've asked me a question that demonstrated you have not read our statute. How dare you question what I do?' she told The Saturday Paper.
At Tuesday's Senate hearing, Professor Triggs said she believed that particular comment had been "put in by the subeditor" – an accusation of extreme journalistic malpractice. She also impugned the report as inaccurate.
"It is written by a journalist, and the comments were taken out of context from a much larger and considered interview," she said.
Professor Triggs has been a punching bag for conservative Coalition MPs ever since her controversial 2014 Forgotten Children report into children in detention. Then prime minister Tony Abbott called the report a "political stitch-up" and said his government had lost confidence in the eminent lawyer.
An official acting on behalf of Attorney-General George Brandis also sought Professor Triggs' resignation before the government launched its assault, which she refused.