How do you wrap up the last 24 hours in the Immigration portfolio? Let’s start with some comments from the Grande Dame of the Gallery, Michelle Grattan, in The Age today:

Vanstone, Immigration head should go now

After a day of a Senate committee grilling the Immigration Department,
one conclusion shone through. If the department is to get a new
culture, it needs a new team.

Officials prevaricated and obfuscated. When they weren’t doing that, they just didn’t know the facts.

Amanda Vanstone wasn’t up with the play. She believed a baby born in
Perth this week of asylum-seeker parents would be returned to Christmas
Island. John Howard isn’t that silly. He contradicted this in
Parliament, leaving his minister high and dry.

Worse, it took
Vanstone a while to catch up. She blustered when Labor returned to the
matter, only to find herself falling into a trap.

The Government is now in a shambles over its detention policy and administration…

Get that? DIMIA Secretary Bill Farmer took the rap
yesterday. He apologised. He and his department have failed – but
they’ve failed administering the Government’s policy. Grattan’s right:
both Vanstone and Farmer should go because they’re both responsible.

Prime Minister has happily taken credit for current detention policies
this week. He has said his Government was returned on the back of them
in 2001. Well, what’s good politics isn’t necessarily good policy.
First, is our detention regime even up to date? Look at what Petro Georgiou has to say today:

Unauthorised boat arrivals have all but ceased and the
great majority of asylum seekers who came by boat were found to be
genuine refugees. Regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq has seen the
halt of major flows of people from two main source countries of
unauthorised arrivals to Australia. Within the region, the activities
of people smugglers have been curtailed…

Let’s forget
all the bleeding heart angles. Let’s look at dollars and cents.
Mandatory detention – let alone the offshore “solution” – costs money.
It costs more than other options. Do you like having your tax dollars
spent on policies that are trashing our country’s reputation round the

And when did faceless pencil pushers become our friends?
“I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” is a running joke in
Australian politics. DIMIA’s droogs have been proved incompetent. There
are no independent checks and balances in the detention system. There
is no requirement on DIMIA or the private companies that run detention
centres to provide regular information to outside bodies. This why
we’ve seen one mentally incapacitated resident and a mentally
incapacitated citizen deported. “There is no independent scrutiny of
whether it is necessary to keep people detained for lengthy or
indefinite periods to protect the community or to prevent them
absconding,” Georgiou writes today.

Does the party of small
government and their media cheerleaders on detention now support
bungling bureaucrats? Wake up! Again, forget any bleeding heart angles
at all and just consider this: if you believe in value for money and
accountability from government and the public sector, you should oppose
mandatory detention.

Vanstone and Farmer have delivered neither. They should go.