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Federal

Mar 4, 2011

ASIO confirms resources
pressure

Questions are still being asked about the length of time taken by ASIO to complete security assessments of asylum seekers.

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As the federal government rushes to increase the capacity of its immigration detention centres to relieve pressure on its overloaded system, questions are being asked about the length of time taken by ASIO to complete security assessments of asylum seekers — nine hundred genuine refugees continue to languish in detention awaiting clearance.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen announced yesterday that a new $9.2 million detention centre would be established at Wickham Point, 35 km south-east of Darwin. The facility would be ready to house 500 asylum seekers by the middle of this year, he said, before eventually moving to a capacity of 1500.

While much of the increased strain on the government’s has been attributed to an increase in asylum seeker boat arrivals, pressure is also beginning to increase on the role of ASIO. Each asylum seeker who arrives offshore is submitted to a security check by ASIO. They can be held indefinitely, as there is no time limit for ASIO to complete the checks.

A review into the administration of intelligence agencies is currently underway, with a submission from ASIO released today declaring that the agency had received 811 complaints last year about delays in security checks. In 2009–10, ASIO completed 38,438 visa Security Assessments (compared with 59,884 in 2008–09) — including 2,822 for “irregular maritime arrivals”.

In a senate estimates hearing last week, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) revealed that 900 people who have been accepted as genuine refugees are still waiting in detention centres because ASIO has not completed their security checks — a number which has grown from 330 last October. Most of these people are being held on Christmas Island.

Greens immigration spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told Crikey that the situation is unfair and that it denies genuine refugees natural justice. Hanson-Young is pushing for a system similar to New Zealand, where she said the Inspector General has the power to review a security assessment that is rejected or takes undue time.

“What we are seeing is very vulnerable people who in all other senses are genuine refugees who remain locked up in detention centres,” Hanson-Young told Crikey. “Despite the constant political argy bargy about people being genuine refugees, what we are finding here is that these people are still being treated as criminals.”

According to a Lateline report, it now takes an average of 66 days for ASIO to perform a security check — about a month longer than it took in 2009. According to its submission to a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) review, ASIO found nineteen adverse security assessments in 2009-10. Fourteen of these adverse assessments were issued on counter‐terrorism grounds, with the rest relating to espionage or foreign interference.

Under the current system, DIAC do not control how ASIO conduct security checks. They can ask for a case to be prioritised, but the security agency is not obliged to act on the request. According to the Lateline report, the delays are causing frictions between DIAC and ASIO. ASIO did not appear before senate estimates last week to explain the delays.

Hanson-Young says this isn’t good enough. The Senator has been pushing for answers from ASIO about the time taken to complete security checks for two years, but to no avail.

“Two years ago I asked them and I got no answers. Now it’s clear that they have a total backlog which they can’t process,” she said. “They are keeping innocent children refugees locked up and they’re not prepared to give any answers.”

Resources were also of concern, said Hanson-Young. According to the senate estimates hearing, DIAC staff had increased from 35 to 170 in the last year. Hanson-Young could not find answers as to whether ASIO had provided a similar increase.

According to its submission, the security agency diverted resources to undertaking security assessment of asylum seekers for DIAC. Consequently, the resources available to assess protection visa and other refugee referrals were “limited” and this caseload experienced delays.

“Given these resource pressures, ASIO has implemented measures to ensure all security assessment cases receive attention, including quarantining resources in the form of a dedicated team responsible for protection visas and other complex non‐IMA visa cases; and working very closely with DIAC to ensure visibility of the overall visa security assessment caseload and agree priorities.”

Submissions to the PJCIS review have been made by advocacy groups, including the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Refugees Survivors and Ex-Detainees. Both groups said they had made myriad complaints to both ASIO and the Inspector‐General of Intelligence (IGIS) about the length of time taken to compete security checks.

But in its submission to the PJCIS, ASIO claimed that an increase in complaints about security checks did not indicate an increase in issues or failings by ASIO and could be a motivated by advocates seeking to reduce visa processing times:

“The majority of these visa‐related complaints to the IGIS appear to be attempts to accelerate visa processing times and do not indicate problems in ASIO’s processes or significant levels of delay in reaching assessments.”

As of 4 February 2011, there were 6659 people in immigration detention, including 4086 being held on the mainland and 2573 on Christmas Island. Of these, 1027 were children. More than 3000 had been in detention longer than six months.

44 comments

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44 thoughts on “ASIO confirms resources
pressure

  1. shepherdmarilyn

    The question is why ASIO have to do the checks in the first place because it is not legal to grant refugee status to anyone deemed to have committed war crimes or crimes against the UN and anyone in that category would be excluded.

    That is done before the grant is made so the time and money wasted on ASIO is just another ruse to try and reject people and they all know it.

    ASIO don’t check kids, they don’t talk to most of the people, they cannot check in the home countries so there is precisely nothing left for them to check.

    It is just another hoax and no-one bothers to ask the correct question which is “if people are not excluded under Article 1F of the convention why do they need more time wasted on ‘security checks’. They are refugees and once they have been found to be refugees they cannot be excluded later on down the track.

    It’s dumb and dumber in ASIO and DIAC running the show like two sets of deluded morons.

  2. Flower

    I’ve been trying to assist a neighbour. He’s been in Australia for nearly four years on a Visa 457. He is a skilled worker who is sent all around the state on jobs because of his work ethics and work efficiency. In addition and separate to his work position, he has a degree from Lebanon in electrical engineering.

    He made application for PR in 2009 though it appears the agency acting on his behalf did not submit the application to DIAC until June 2010. Nevertheless he still has not been granted permanent residency.

    He’s pays plenty of taxes, his wife works fulltime, his children attend the local state school, they all attend the local Baptist Church on Sundays and he has no plans to blow up the neighbourhood.

    He has a significantly generous deposit to buy a house. Waving his arms about like a mad Lebbo, he tells me: “I never do nothing wrong. I live in shit house – I wanna buy my own house. I pay big rent for nothing. How can I buy house without PR? Refugees get PR – not me!”

  3. John Bennetts

    What’s this about needing more staff? Clearly, the output indicates that ASIO needs fewer staff. Since last year only 75% as many cases were assessed as for the average of the previous 6 years, surely the response should be to CUT staff by 25%, commensurate with output.

    Only after subsequent reviews of productivity and workload should replacements be considered.

    Let the mandarins know that their inefficiency is eating at their power base, get rid of the surplus staff and redefine the way that the work is handled, before considering adding more slowcoaches to an already stuffed bunch of incumbents. The last thing that should be done is to add more feathers to an already stuffed bed.

    Have I forgotten the refugees? No way! Those who have UN clearance may just as well go on their way. 35,000+ of the more than 38,000 customers are already roaming our streets. What’s to be feared about another thousand or so, a meagre 3 percent or less, a large number of whom are kids in any case?

  4. shepherdmarilyn

    Flower dear your friend is not in danger and I am sick to death of clowns using every forum about refugees who have nothing to make up yarns about “friends’ who did different things.

    Grow up.

    It is not the fault of Afghan refugees that we have made their country unliveable.

    Your friend can go home and be safe.

    Now get over it.

  5. Flower

    Shepherd – I was alluding to ASIO’s delay and its skewed priority system in processing PRs.

    Three weeks ago I held a tea party. Among the mix of guests were Iraqi, Afghan and Somalian refugees (One Afghan friend does not know her year of birth). Added to that list were Lebanese Christians, one Pom, three Chinese and nine Australians. And what have you done Shepherd? Squawk, squawk, squawk?

    May I suggest that you and are part of the problem? And I suspect you may have been asked this question before: Do you have a problem with your hormones or is it just some sort of obsessive disorder?

  6. John Bennetts

    Oh dear! Ladies!

    You have significant common ground between you. While I take a fiendish pleasure from reading artistic insult, surely the time has come to let go of each others’ throats.

  7. Flower

    Yay John. Surely you alone would know that provocation and falsehoods incite my delicate sensibilities? And it must be therapeutic for you when you can unload some of that latent malice you have for the fairer sex and which you try so hard to suppress?

  8. Sir Lunchalot

    @ shepherdmarilyn

    Marilyn, they need to undertake comprehensive checks and its hard because the countries they come from dont have the systems we do. Also the illegal immigrants may change their name or have false papers or no papers.

  9. AR

    In this digital age, no competent officer needs more than a couple of hours to TOTALLY (and most citizen naifs would freak if they realised how completely) examine, document and evaluate a person.
    It is beyond ludicrous to claim that spooks need to contact o/s agencies in the refugees home countries.
    IF they existed, and weren’t utterly corrupt, partisan or incompetent, the belief that they would have anything useful to say is passing strange, given that these ‘undocumented’ people (tearing my hair out this afternoon listening to the Cadaver reiterating all his bile & b/s on Their ABC’sCounterpoint about refugees) have fled such regimes.

  10. Syd Walker

    ASIO’s budget has increased by approximately an order of magnitude (~10x) since 2001 – the start of the absolutely vital and thoroughly terrifying War on Terror (i.e. Bin Laden and all that, wink, wink, nudge, nudge – just remember… NEVER mention nanothermite!)

    As all Australians will doubtless recall, this rather meagre increase in annual funding had to be battled through Parliament at every stage – as our fearless elected representatives and the mass media openly debated whether more Australian taxpayers’ dollars should indeed be spent on what a few seditious cynics have described as cancerous growth in spookdom.

    Now it turns out we’ve actually been stingy. The valiant men and women of ASIO risk all daily to defend Australians’ freedom (ensuring envious Islamic fundamentalist terrorists have an enduring reason to hate us) – yet we can’t even provide our courageous defenders with sufficient resources to function at a minimal level of effectiveness! What a mean-spirited lot Australians are!

    A Government really concerned about national security would surely loosen the purse-strings. This should be above mere party politics – and incessant, well-publicised demands in Parliament to scrutinise the intelligence agencies more closely must stop!

    Sometimes it almost seems like Al Qaida has infiltrated Labor, the Coalition and the Greens. If only ASIO had enough funds to monitor all our politicians 24×7 (as well as trade unionists, peace activists, Arabs, Muslims, boat people, civil libertarians, environmentalists and other key threats to the Australian way of life). Then we all might feel a little safer…

  11. shepherdmarilyn

    Well now let me see flower, I worked pro bono with the Woomera lawyers for years to get people out of Woomera.

    DIC’s claim it takes 18 hours from start to finish to work out a refugee claim.

  12. Barry 09

    Lets have Flower and sheperd in a cage fight , with only one coming out alive.

  13. Elan

    21C and we still have to put up with such infantile nonsense………………….eh? BAZZA??

    “And I suspect you may have been asked this question before: Do you have a problem with your hormones or is it just some sort of obsessive disorder?”

    Thanks FLOWER, your little meow fed right into that comment. There is always some tawdry spit and sawdust cretin waiting to have a cheap snicker at ‘the girls’. Try to desist, or just go with the Shepherd Syndrome and pull out a jugular vein!

    We cop enough of this dark ages crap. WHY do we contribute to it so willingly ourselves?

    I am SA. MS is SA. I do not know her. I sometimes like her approach. Other times I don’t. I sure as hell have no problem putting my point across succinctly,-and it would increase dramatically if I copped this b.itchy rubbish.

    That said, I see no valid reason to bring up one injustice and attempt to minimise another to gain leverage. This has been done recently by security staff at Villawood. They have it bad; ergo refugee’s have it good rationale.

    What a disingenuous thing to do! Perhaps you can make your friend feel better if you advise him of how lucky… yep I do mean lucky,- he is! To have skill; to have a loving family; to have freedom.

    I admit he’s doing what many in Australia and globally are doing; ‘ I have achieved this, WHY is this not recognised? THEY get everything’.

    How bloody sad that those who have availed themselves of a better life, feel the compulsion to denigrate others-who are always worse off…for wanting the same. I have little respect for anyone who elevates themselves by standing on-and crushing down, those who they see as beneath them.

    And btw; when I read the above article, my first thought was WHY was ASIO given this task? Regrettably the answer is simple. It demonises all refugees. ASIO involvement marks them as terrorists until proven otherwise.

    A calculated move to ensure the vilification of refugees continues.

    And it works well doesn’t it?

  14. Flower

    My dear Elan – I am not here to debate the refugee dilemma, despite Shepherd’s red herrings. I have never engaged in the refugee debate, never have, and never will. An exception was my original post on this thread; however, the criticisms in my post were directed at ASIO (and they remain).

    Furthermore, I had already told my Lebbo friend in no uncertain terms, that he is not the only one paying taxes and that the PR delays are not all about him. Nevertheless, he has already paid $10,000 to the agency representing him and $7,000 for English lessons etc., to prove that he qualifies for PR.

    Additionally, Shepherd may be interested to learn that I was riding with Afghan cameleers from the age of four when I and my family lived in a canvas lined humpy in the outback. These thoroughly vivid and happy memories are denied to the rest of Australians – more particularly the radical, ignorant bleeding hearts, many of whom are dole bludgers.

    I must question why anyone would debate the refugee dilemma with Shepherd who reveals her support for Hamas and Hezbollah, denies Christians in the Middle East are being persecuted (except in Israel) and denies the holocaust:

    “Official figures for the Jewish populations of Germany in 1933 were 450,000, two thirds whom fled before the holocaust.

    ”In Austria it was only 180,000 and two thirds of them escaped. Where the 6 million comes from is obviously another load of bunkum.”

    And then claims:

    “It was not the Palestinians who sent 6 million innocent people to the gas chambers. That was “us”.

    Shepherd is undeniably deranged and should go out and get a job except I imagine she is unemployable.

    “Pro bono” indeed. As my deceased husband (barrister-at-law) would have said: “Just more ambulance chasers sweetie – with a contemporary twist.”

  15. bluepoppy

    I imagine ASIO is no different to any other government department – it has to meet the obligations of the insidious efficiency dividend. Extra funding in response to the whole-of-government approach to terrorism in 2001 does not imply that ‘windfall’ was directed to data entry and vetting functions. The number of asylum seekers has also increased dramatically so it is logical that impacts on resourcing requirements.

    Fact is many Commonwealth departments are stressed at ‘operational’ level due to lack of people on the ground and an over-emphasis on senior (often over-ranked) roles.

    ASIO has admitted it cannot keep up. An article I read some time ago also highlighted the difficulty in confirming identities for many who cannot provide legitimate identification documents. All adds to the difficulties I would imagine.

  16. Elan

    I was hoping not to return here tonight. ‘Saturday night’ is irrelevant to one as jaded as I, and who is also currently ‘under the weather’;- but one will go and check emails………….so; ere I is.

    FLOWER ? For all my balance and equality ethic, this cannot be the tag of a male. So I address a female.

    With the vagaries of the automod,-posts can be held for scrutiny. Both of yours were, so they have appeared a wee whiley after they were posted.

    Firstly this is an extraordinary hypocrisy given your subsequent comment to MS :

    To JOHN:“……….when you can unload some of that latent m.alice you have for the fairer sex and which you try so hard to suppress?”

    ‘M.alice for the fairer sex’ ? is it different because you did not ‘suppress’ it ?

    Next: This topic is about the role of ASIO in regard to ‘security clearance’ of asylum seekers. What’s with the ‘red herring’ thing? If you don’t engage in the refugee debate/ ‘never have; never will’, what are you doing here? You cannot refer to a red herring whilst you choose to swim in a pool of them!

    ( And can I clarify? You have addressed ME. I am now responding).

    I’m not your ‘dear Elan’. We both know that. But I’ll explain why:

    I won’t call someone out on cattiness then dish it out in spades.
    I won’t EVER refer to someone from L.ebanon as a ‘L.ebbo’.
    I won’t address someone just by their surname as a putdown…. specifically when they are on topic, and I am not.

    (Proviso: I am as subtle as a sledgehammer, don’t misunderstand me. But I balk at getting angry when I cannot steer a topic from its focus to serve my own argument).

    One has standards you know……

    You chose to raise something that even in my opinion, does not hold the same stress and trauma as that of a refugee awaiting ‘processing’. VERY frustrating granted; but not an humanitarian crisis.

    As for your familiarity with the Cameleers and your ‘B.arrister at law’ husband. I’ll repeat myself, and I don’t like doing it. I really don’t. But this stuff gets to me. My grandfather is an Af.ghan. I grew up in N.orthern P.akistan. Yes that’s right: part ‘P.aki’ as opposed to ‘L.ebbo’.

    (I’m hoping the dots will allow the post).

    And without incessant personal detail I know law quite well, as does one of my brothers and my now d.eceased father.

    “…..more particularly the r.adical, ignorant bleeding hearts, many of whom are d.ole b.ludgers.”

    Rocket science it ain’t! Your focus and political allegiance is crystal clear. I wonder if the Right have ‘d.ole b.ludgers’ (haven’t heard that one for a while!).

    It is pleasing to see that you value at least some of ‘f.oreign’ blood. Your b,ile has really spilled over, I’m glad that you don’t condemn all, perhaps just the successful ones have validity?

    As I said; you have addressed me. If you decide to refer to me as ‘deranged’ then our discussion will intensify considerably. Even we part P.aki’s have enough intelligence to pick up an insult and react to it.

  17. Syd Walker

    Hey, I have an great idea!

    Let’s give ASIO another 1,000+% increase over the next ten years and see if it can do the few things we ask it to do that have a publicly-announced outcome without inordinate delays.

    If it can’t, we can always bigger its budget again…

    “No different to any other government department” says Bluepoppy. That’s a comment that, quite literally, might be described as ‘priceless’. Unlike ASIO…

  18. bluepoppy

    You’ve read too much into my humble offering Syd. I am not arguing there is no waste in the public service, incuding ASIO, but like any government agency ASIO has to show a commitment to the efficieny dividend. There is of course room to ferret out ‘real’ waste but there is a universal tendency to trim the ‘already lean’ as opposed to the ‘fat’. My point was ASIO is just like any other department if there is an increase in workload and no corresponding increase in resources to cope with it, even in the short term, there will be a backlog. It is simple mathematics.

  19. John Bennetts

    Bluepoppy is too generous.

    ASIO’s budget has increased by 100% (Syd, above) and its output has gone down by 25% (me, above).

    This appears to be a case of one of Parkinson’s 3 Laws in action: A system, left to itself, will degenerate. ASIO has degenerated, at least by the measures presented in the lead article.

    Isn’t it time that the ASIO degenerates got their collective digits removed by at least as much as will suffice to restore average output as per the previous 6 years (25% improvement) or even the heady days of relatively highest output in 07/08, which is an improvement over current performance of 90%.

    Surely a budget constraint of several percentage points cannot be blown up into an excuse for virtually halving the measurable outcomes.

  20. Syd Walker

    Hi Bluepoppy.

    You write: “like any government agency ASIO has to show a commitment to the efficieny dividend”.

    Could you explain how ASIO shows “a commitment to the efficiency dividend”? Who evaluates its output for efficiency? Where is publicly-available information that might enable me to make an informed decision about whether you’re correct on that point?

    You also write “ASIO is just like any other department if there is an increase in workload and no corresponding increase in resources to cope with it…”

    I’d like to ask… how many other government departments have enjoyed a funding increase of an order of magnitude in a decade? What’s all this dosh been spent on? Why shouldn’t ASIO’s management ensure – at the VERY LEAST – that some of its extra funding is used so we don’t put incarcerated asylum seekers through even more misery?

  21. Syd Walker

    @ John Bennetts

    No, not 100%. If only! ASIO’s budget has increased by approximately 1,000%. That is – it has grown approximately ten times.

    If you Google “The exponential growth of Australian spookdom” it’ll bring up a short article I wrote on this topic in mid-2010, which drew some of its material from an earlier article in Crikey.

    As Bernard Keane wrote back in May 2009: “All this for an agency with no public scrutiny or performance indicators to assess whether it is doing its job or responsibly spending taxpayers’ money.”

  22. John Bennetts

    Thanks, Syd.

    This is now beyond laughable and heading through fantasy land into the incomprehensible wilderness beyond.

    So, in broad figures, ASIO has enjoyed a ten-fold increase in loot in order to achieve, over a similar timeframe of 6 to 10 years, a 50% decline in output as measured by this parameter.

    Is it about time for a high octane plus matches stocktake? There is simply no plausible excuse for this shocking waste of human lives and the consequent additional cost, in the order of millions per month, that housing these unfortunates is costing us all.

    The only excuse I can dream up is that these delays are intentional, cynical and unrepented; that they are intended to send some kind of message in an attempt to “stop the boats”, when 95% of the folk we are processing didn’t arrive that way in the first place.

    Or, just perhaps, have ASIO adopted a 2-hour working week?

  23. bluepoppy

    Yes, understand the points made on the face of it, but one has to ask where the increased funding has been directed. It is obviously not security vetting for visas, checks and data entry if there is a backlog.

    How was the 50% decline in output measured as compared to funding increases? How does one measure the ouput of ‘spook’ work in other areas areas vamped up after 9/11. Do you measure the number of spooks and compare how many reports they have submitted? How do you place a value on the success of preventing terrorism given the recent convictions post the terrorism trials in Victoria. How many have others have been thwarted, we mere mortals might never know. It is a bit like the millions of funding to the National Security Hotline for all its faults, how do you place a value on prevention even if it is one call that prevents a catastrophic situation. One might argue that the national security threat is overplayed by politicians wanting to look like they are doing something about the threat of terrorism, but that is a separate issue not one that relates to the article above which reflects a very real increase in workload.

    There is less scrutiny because of obvious reasons, but there is always IGIS who oversee the intelligence community and the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) who is responsible for the national security arrangements.

    I am not meaning to sound like an apologist for ASIO but have worked in enough government departmentss to know here is always a back story – sometimes it is valid other times there might be a bit of whitewashing and spin or covering bureaucratic backsides. ASIO is always an easy target and sometimes not all the facts might be known. But then I am a generous soul. 🙂

  24. John Bennetts

    Again, for bluepoppy:

    The numbers come from the tables in the article.
    2007/08: Total assessments for temporary and permanent visas: 72,688. Two years later, 38,438. Near enough to half.

    If ASIO does not seek to become a target of criticism, one way for it to achieve this objective is to get through their work effectively. Another is to be responsive to the amount of personal pain and harm that slow assessments cause. They have done neither.

    As I stated above, perhaps the backlog and all that goes with it is intentional. It certainly appears probable. All of this is amazing, considering that there is really no way to demonstrate that this slow and expensive and much delayed work is in any way worthwhile in the first place.

  25. Syd Walker

    You are indeed a generous spirit Bluepoppy. If you’re a Roman Catholic I suspect you may be headed for sainthood. You appear to see the good in everyone and that is truly a wonderful trait.

    Pardon me for being a tad more jaded. You wrote “ASIO is always an easy target”. That is a highly debatable proposition. I’d say 95%+ of elected politicians are reflexively unwilling to say ANYTHING negative about this spy agency. They may well remember what happened to Lionel Murphy, the last Federal politician who made a serious attempt to bring ASIO under meaningful democratic control.

    I cannot forget or forgive the obvious pressure brought to bear (if not from ASIO, then who else?) which has prevented the holding of a public inquiry into the 1978 Hilton bombings. ASIO, which enjoyed a significant funding increase as a result of that mysterious atrocity in the late 1970s, fell under suspicion as the years went by for possible complicity in the only deadly ‘terrorist attack’ to date on Australian soil. But despite a unanimous resolution from the NSW Parliament in the early 1990s, no inquiry has ever been held (the inquest had earlier been aborted and the frame-up of Tim Anderson was eventually discredited).

    In my opinion, ‘secret services’ and ‘intelligence agencies’ are poisonous to democracy. They are essentially war-time institutions. In peace time seek a continuing rationale for their cushy, unaccountable and devious existence.

    They infiltrate and thereby corrupt institutions within civil society such as the media, trade unions, academia – even the peace and environment movement. At their best, they are a very expensive waste of public resources. At their worst, they get involved in false flag terrorism and framing innocent people to create a nasty bandwagon of fear and loathing.

    On request, I can substantiate the above propositions with credible references. By contrast, I have no hard evidence to support this… but would not be at all surprised if I learn eventually that spooks have been involved in regulating the flow of refugee-laded boats from Indonesia to Australia – presumably to create maximum embarrassment for politicians they least favour. All too often when Federal elections are called, the boats seem to starting arriving while the Murdoch media cranks up xenophobia. Funny that.

    Incidentally, these criticisms should not be misinterpreted as suggesting that ALL spooks are involved in criminal activity. I doubt that. But the very structure of intelligence agencies make rogue outfits possible and almost inevitable, especially if there are some rogues at the top. The idea that Parliament is on top of this issue in any serious way is laughable. It’s job is to sign the cheques and shut up. Our Governments are as much ‘on top’ of corruption in the intelligence agencies as British Governments in the 1950s were ‘on top’ of the Cambridge Spy ring. Not at all, in other words.

    Incidentally, Crikey is to be complimented in covering the issue of ASIO funding more adequately than the great majority of media in this country. For the most part, it’s been a taboo subject for Australian journalists. Politicians have dropped the ball. The days when senior Labor politicians had balls seem to have died with Don Dunstan. I’m sad the say this, but to date The Greens so far have been no better. Hence the entire parliament tippy-toes around, trying to make sure our spooks don’t ever get upset. There’s one word for it: pathetic.

  26. Elan

    That will do very nicely SYD WALKER.

  27. bluepoppy

    Not sure an Atheist is destined for sainthood.

    Syd I have no quibble and fully concur with your concerns about scrutiny of the intelligence community. In the spirit of Wikileaks, all governments and their agents should function transparently with full accountability. However, numbers don’t always tell the story – asylum seekers are people not just numbers and their stories are different depending what is happening internationally.

    For example, there has been an increase in asylum seekers from war torn nations (through no fault of their own) and it may be that more asylum seekers do not have enough in the way of identification papers. This is to be expected if one has just picked up and fled particularly from countries where there is not the administrative pedantism of the West.

    I note the second table is different to the first and does not indicate the number of Offshore/Humanitarian or Irregular Maritime Arrivals. There were many more of those sorts of cases in the years after 2003, perhaps that had an impact upon the processing of Permanent Residence and Temporary Visa security checks (those two are the only ones shown in the second table). I always hesitate when one is comparing apples with oranges without being given the full facts. Being a numbers person my antennae go up when the figures appear incomplete but perhaps I am reading too much into the discrepancy.

    However, havnig got myself into hot water a number of times due to anomalies within the public sector I agree, whatever the reason, governments should do better overall both in level of scrutiny, with all the proper checks and balances in place to reduce the incidence of wrongdoing.

  28. Moira Smith

    @FLOWER
    “Shepherd is undeniably deranged’
    This is called ‘projection’ (Google it).

  29. Flower

    @Moira Smith

    No need to “google it” rabble rouser. Here’s lookin’ at you Gran.

  30. galeg

    shepherdmarilyn brings up a valid point, but I suspect not in the way she intended.
    How can any illegal entry be classified as a genuine refugee if the have not been security cleared before they are declared genuine ?
    To me it is like saying a horse has won a race, but we just need to see if it goes past the finish line first.
    Refugee applicants should not even be considered for Refugee status unless ASIO can undertake full confirmation of their identity and checks back through the UN, or some other like body, to confirm they are not wanted for any type of criminal activity. Unfortunately this must also incllude children, as ASIO has already stated that some, self declared children, look quite old for being under sixteen.
    Anyway ASIO appears to be doing a good job, but the low number of rejections is of concern.
    My view is that all paid up boat passengers should be sent to the nearest UN sponsored refugee camp to wait their turn behind the thousands already waiting for refugee consideration. If they are genuine they will wait.

  31. Elan

    “Anyway ASIO appears to be doing a good job, but the low number of rejections is of concern.”

    Honest GULAG, all you really needed to do was put that one sentence, then there was no necessity for the rest of your post!

  32. Astro

    Marilyns solution is to let everyone in (no questions asked), cause the poor souls need our help. No processing, open door policy

  33. Elan

    Dinna fret yersel ASSTRO.

    The mongrol hoards are not descending. Sleep easy the’ night. You won’t awake to find your bed out in the garden.

  34. Flower

    Oops the Master has spoken Gulag and steady as you go or you will invoke the wrath of Elan’s f….a….t….w….a. And when speaking to r…..a……c…….i……s…….t……s, speak only when spoken to and agree with everything they say. Never ever mention such foul words as the h.o.l.o.c.a.u.s.t or Lebanese Christians. Never try to defend yourself from the initiator of insults.

    Never argue with those inciting hatred and division in the host country.

    And subscribe only to blogs written by moderates (see below) who do not speak with forked tongues:

    “Do you think racism still exists within the Muslim community?

    “(This poll ended on Fri, March 04, 2011 – 8:00:10.)

    “No, not at all
    1.41%
    Not really
    14.08%
    Yes, definitely
    84.51%”

    No doubt Crikey will delete this post where moderation is soooo selective but if I get lucky, google “elan…the….mag” for verification of the above and for a bit of sensible reading without the…… . well… I’m sure you know what I mean.

  35. shepherdmarilyn

    The refugee convention forbids closing borders, Australia not only wrote it but agreed to it and now wants to close the borders.

    200,000 people have fled Libya in one week and we would be sickened if Libya closed the borders yet we want to continue to whinge incessantly about 6,000 people.

    We need to stop wasting so much time and money and do the job.

    The convention and law states that no-one can be granted refugee status if they fail article 1F of then convention but we do that after we grant them status and leave them in jail for life without charging them.

    If they are demonstrably dangerous bring charges – I wonder though what crime the kids might have committed.

    And ASIO by law actually doesn’t do anything – they don’t interview most applicants, they can’t ask the country that asylum seekers have left because that is illegal, they don’t actually do anything.

  36. Elan

    FLOWER it is never a good idea to miss your dose of Lithium.

  37. Flower

    Apologies for the error in your nick Galeg. That was foolish of me to swallow Elan’s bait – yet another insidious ruse slipped in (“GULAG AND ASSTRO” – upper case) to enable him to arrogantly express his contempt for those he regards as inferior beings – and without provocation!

    Frankly I think Elan’s f….a…..t…..w….a and gaseous emissions are more appropriate on the MS blog where crap, discrimination and hazardous air pollutants are received with relish.

  38. Elan

    It’s OK…..just take the meds and she’ll be right.

  39. Flower

    @ ELAN

    Meds? Aren’t they the ones that are sending you broke due to your chronic affliction? Orificial meds? Top *and* bottom?

  40. Elan

    Oh Christ ! You really are a nut aren’t you? Here was I making a joke…

  41. Flower

    @ ELAN Yeah me too. ‘Spose GULAG AND ASSTRO are your idea of a joke as well? Get back in your straitjacket pal – the buzzards are circling. They relish feasting on the leftovers of a sick mind.

  42. Elan

    At least…er, ‘FLOWER’ you’ve dropped the hypocrisy of what you saw as a reasonable argument.

    It was seen for what it was. You get mightily ticked off,-and now we get to the brass tacks! Just calm down. I know damn well that the two posters- (that you are so offended on behalf of!!)- are well able to look after themselves!

    You are simply using that as an excuse because you couldn’t impress people here.

    This ‘get back into the straightjacket pal’/ ‘buzzards are circling’ stuff is saying much more about you than me!

    Why is a male calling himself FLOWER? Is this ‘a boy called Sue’ thing?

    Calm down. Put up a reasonable point of view and it will be agreed or disagreed with. This stuff is just ranting!

    No lucid point of view forthcoming?? Then mumble along on your own. This place is for adults not baccy chewing rednecks.

    It isn’t the first time that ineloquent, incoherent ranters who repeat the same insults time and time again, need to be left to their own devices. It won’t be the last. Either side of political philosophy recognises that.

    Go your hardest.

  43. Flower

    “ I am not here to debate the refugee dilemma, despite Shepherd’s red herrings. I have never engaged in the refugee debate, never have, and never will. An exception was my original post on this thread; however, the criticisms in my post were directed at ASIO (and they remain).” @Flower Posted Saturday, 5 March 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Dear Elan – Dementia’s bad this time eh? And I know you’re having more fun than a clown on fire coz the word’s out you’ve eluded the interns again. And I see you’ve been busier than a billy goat with two peckers. Please remember your last break-out when the sheriff asked you to stop smearing graffiti all over the trailer park when you received all those knock backs.

    So what is it this time? Run out of cowpunchers to play with? What about that old geezer up thar on Hillbilly Hill? He’s so ugly he’d make the milk turn but one can’t be fussy if you recall they had to burn down the school to get you out of third grade. Besides, who could forget that nice old Doc, before your involuntary confinement, who said you were so dumb that you couldn’t pass the blood test?

    Don’t hurry back. Mum’s the word with the interns who tell me they’re on a promise.

  44. Elan

    To get back to the topic..

    As I’ve already said, the role of ASIO regarding refugees is surprising, yet predictable I suppose. It sends the clear message to Australians that ‘refugees are a threat’.

    I would think that any half way decent terrorist would be disinclined to make a journey to Australia on an overcrowded vessel that might not even complete that journey. Zealous idealism does not fit that.

    Those that risk such a journey should not be the domain of ASIO unless there is overwhelming suspicion of an ulterior motive,-perhaps an AK47 stashed in the robes?

    Poor old cash strapped ASIO. Jack of all trades, master of none.

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