Michael Pascoe writes:

On cue to demonstrate how the Federal
Government remains a responsibility-free zone, the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s
report on long-term detainees
yesterday shows departments and ministers happily get away with torture as long
as the opinion polls don’t react.

Star of the latest DIMA scandal is the
anonymous Mr X, a diabetic who has been locked up by the Vanstone/Rudd regimes
for more than six years. He also is mentally ill – a condition that might have
something to do with being jailed for so long despite having committed no
crime. Bangladesh doesn’t recognise Mr X as a citizen, but according to the
ombudsman, DIMA is still thinking about deporting him. To everyone else but
DIMA, it’s obvious that they can’t.

Labor
reckons Mr X should be given a visa. Certainly there’s no point in keeping him
locked up at greater expense to taxpayers than just letting him loose on the
streets with the rest of the mentally ill.

Mr X is just another example of Senator
Vanstone’s incompetence. She now is talking about giving Mr X’s case “urgent
attention” – that’s urgent attention after six-and-a-half-years behind wire.
After Rau, Solon, Bachtiari et al, DIMA is still DIMA and the minister takes
no responsibility beyond the regular mouthing of the meaningless words “I take
full responsibility”.

It’s more than a year now since Cornelia
Rau’s case become public. The Palmer inquiry reported last July, but nothing
moves under Vanstone until it’s exposed by outside investigation.

So how do you rank incompetence – is
Downer’s wonderful unknowing about AWB kickbacks worse than Vanstone’s
detention and deportation follies? It doesn’t matter though – Howard stands by
his colleagues and their records.

Peter Fray

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