You need to look behind today’s headlines – Refugees must pay high price for freedom
– to find the refugee concessions that aren’t. How much of yesterday’s
announcement is actually a tacit admission that our immigration
bureaucracy is incompetent, out of control, mismanaged and an affront
to every Australian concept of liberty? And how much of this
“initiative” is actually a kneejerk response to the Cornelia Rau affair?

was the Rau affair that not only brought the realities of mandatory
detention home to average Australians, it scared the pants off them. An
Australian citizen placed in effective solitary confinement is guilty
of – what? Suffering from mental incapacity. That’s how immigration
detention works, the punters suddenly realised.

A 2004 High
Court ruling has found that people can be locked up for the rest of
their lives without being convicted of an offence under the laws
administered by Mandy’s Morons. When you think about it, as the public
is now doing, it is truly terrifying.

Refugee advocates are planning a protest outside Amanda Vanstone’s North Adelaide home tomorrow, as The Agereports. She says that’s making things “personal”.

What about more than a century of Australian tradition – and even
longer in Westminster – of ministerial responsibility that says that
the boss carries the can? If Vanstone wants to talk about the personal,
she can take personal responsibility for the fact that her department
is out of control and has trampled on the rights of an innocent woman –
and quit.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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