“ASIO twice mistakenly advised a phone company that the Attorney-General had endorsed warrants for taps 24 hours before the endorsement had been obtained,” Michelle Grattan reports in The Age.
That’s exactly the sort of issue a number of state and federal Liberals are having problems with in the lead up to the introduction of the terror bills. Their mood can be summed up in one of two words – Rau or Solon.
These MPs – influential, experienced MPs, in some cases – aren’t just concerned by possible legal defects in the draft legislation. They are worried by the proven track record of incompetence and disregard for people’s rights of the pen-pushers who will administer the laws.
Bureaucratic capture, incompetence and blame-shifting – plus populist authoritarianism – is a pretty scary mixture, after all.
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Take DIMIA’s denial policy. The Vanstone/Ruddock response has been to blame staff and claim no prior knowledge. It’s very simple – but the number of scandals and the time frame they have occurred over suggest much wider management failures.
These failures include a lack of an internal audit and review system; case by case regular reviews; the application of a duty of care in all matters relating to detainees; management and review/audit the medical management of detainees (particularly mental health); a beyond reasonable doubt approach to identification research and review and no requirement for detailed reporting to the ministers.
Government members want to talk about this before it’s banned by the terror laws, but imagine the possibility: A bungling bureaucrat lost my liberties.