Serco — the company behind troubled UK immigration detention centres and prisons and now the contractor in Australia — has quickly introduced a tough new regime to inhibit visitors to the Australian IDCs.

Under the new guidelines, Australians will have to apply 24 hours in advance for clearance for each visit.

The memo, plumped up with corporate purple prose is an insidious document portraying a jailer in charge of people who have committed no crime. Not one, but two identity documents will have to be provided by those seeking to visit.

They will also have to complete applications forms — from where, unstated, but obtained in advance. Multiple visit applications will have extra conditions. Lawyers will also face tough new access provisions within restricted hours.

Even under Howard’s regime visitors could turn up at the gate and gain entry with one simple ID.

It was the influx of visitors that dramatically emphasised the plight of children behind the razor-wire and brought the change of policy in 2005.

Now (PM Kevin) Rudd’s and (immigration minister Chris) Evans’ “humane” approach means detainees who are having problems will have to carry their emotional and psychological needs by themselves until Serco examines whether or not a friend is to be admitted after day or two waiting.

The Australian fair go means nothing any more to the ALP, which secured our votes by promising so much — but delivering only perfidy.

Trish and John Highfield are Crikey readers.

Peter Fray

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