By political correspondent Christian Kerr

The case for…

you can get deported or detained if you have a foreign accent and a
mental illness – but boatloads of illegals are far and few on the

Mandatory detention needs renovation, not demolition.
That’s the argument Don D’Cruz from the Institute of Public Affairs
think tank put in an op-ed in The Courier Mail:

Arguing for more safeguards and greater flexibility within
the system for the vulnerable is a far cry from the effective
dismantling of mandatory detention which is what some are arguing for.

spite of its faults, the current border protection regime has proved
remarkably effective in terms of stemming the tide of unauthorised
arrivals on our shores.

One might even argue that the current
system may be a victim of its own success, with some believing that the
policy is no longer necessary.

That would be a mistake.
Australia’s border protection policy, which is centred on mandatory
detention, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late but
it needs fine tuning, not an extreme makeover…

The fight against…

Good work from TheOz. “Hundreds of immigration detainees have been held without
trial in the nation’s toughest prisons to live alongside hardened
criminals, some for years at a time,” Natasha Robinson writes.

Immigration Department was unable to provide an estimate yesterday of
how many cases have passed through the nation’s maximum security
prisons, but confirmed there were 14 detainees in state-run jails. The Australian understands the practice has been routine for at least five years…

we worry about people accused of crimes but on remand being locked up
with these types…I wouldn’t want you or Ruddock as a lawyer, Mandy.

Howard has never seriously faced internal opposition since he returned
as Liberal leader in 1995. This issue is doubly dangerous for him.

Georgiou and his supporters in the party room represent traditional
Liberal supporters that have developed second thoughts about supporting
the party – doctor’s wives. Their votes cost Howard the seat of
Adelaide and maybe Parramatta last year. The people who support
mandatory detention are the new Liberal voters that have given Howard
his success – the sort of electors who have made the outer Melbourne
seat of Aston, considered up for grabs at a by-election four years ago,
safer than Georgiou’s own electorate and Menzies’ old seat of Kooyong.

Unattributed quotes that
ran on the wires show the mood after the Government Party Room meeting was wobbly – quotes like: “I’m
glad Petro brought the issue up. It’s good we’ve got it back on our
radar. We’d like to see the process streamlined a little. If people
could be processed more quickly, not sitting behind razor wire for long
periods, we’d be happy.”

Georgiou intends to press ahead with
his proposals if he can’t reach a compromise with the prime minister.
At least 11 MPs and senators are prepared to vote for all or part of
his two proposed private member’s bills. That’s not enough for anything
to happen, even with the support of the ALP and the crossbenchers, but
a very strong start.

Amanda Vanstone’s characteristic glib bullying in Estimates – the cake episode, for example – can’t have reassured her colleagues.

Read more on the Crikey website here.