The Commonwealth Ombudsman yesterday released the latest report of his investigations into the 247 cases of mishandling people suspected of unlawful residence in Australia by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. These reports concern 20 people, including 10 children. It turns out all but 2 were lawful residents at the time of their detention, including 8 of the 10 children.
In the interests of balance, here is the Minister's Press release and a link to the Department's responses.
These cases were referred to the Ombudsman following the Palmer Report, the unlawful detention of Cornelia Rau and the unlawful deportation of Vivian Alvarez.
The Minister for Immigration, Senator Vanstone, when interviewed by Kerry O'Brien on ABC's 7.30 Report, claimed that the whole exercise was proof of the Government's commitment to openness and transparency. This is spin that even Shane Warne could'nt match, but Kerry O'Brien knows spin when he sees it coming:
AMANDA VANSTONE: I think a minister's job as soon as a problem is highlighted is not to say "I'll fix this problem" and wait for others to come, but to lift up the rug and say, let�s go and find if there are any others. I don't think you can nominate a Government elsewhere in Australia and certainly not in the time I've been in Parliament where a Government has been so open and transparent and said, "Look, there are a few problems here. There could be more. Let's go and find them. Let's send them to an independent arbitrator to make a good and independent report and do a wholesale, lock, stock and barrel fix on this Department". You can't name a Government that's been that open and transparent and sought out the problems in order to fix them.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Senator Vanstone -AMANDA VANSTONE: Kerry, that's a minister's job.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Can we please continue the interview. The rug was actually lifted by the media.
AMANDA VANSTONE: I was wanting to continue my answer, if I might say -
KERRY O'BRIEN: Well, how long is it going to be?
AMANDA VANSTONE: Well, I've just finished. I wanted to make the point. I was only wanting to finish my answer.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Well, I will now make the point that the rug was actually lifted by the media. You were acting in response to scandalous cases revealed by the media.