Apr 26, 2017

Immigration can’t even protect our borders — time for an inquiry

A long series of independent reports has confirmed that the Department of Immigration is the most incompetent agency in the Commonwealth. A major intervention is needed.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

As the focus on serious bungling at the Department of Immigration grows -- including whether departmental officers could be prosecuted for contributing to the death of an asylum seeker -- it is becoming clear that there are major, and serious, problems within the department in relation to some of the most important functions it carries out outside its asylum seeker detention regime.

A review of recent reports by the Australian National Audit Office shows systemic and recurrent flaws within Immigration that suggest only a full-scale, independent inquiry into the department can address ongoing maladministration and incompetence. While the ANAO's recent reports on the department's bungling of billion-dollar offshore processing contracts are the highest-profile examples of the profound flaws within the department, other major problems have also been revealed by the independent ANAO.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

8 thoughts on “Immigration can’t even protect our borders — time for an inquiry

  1. Mike Smith

    If misdeeds are found to have occurred in a ministry, the minister is expected to resign.

  2. Dog's Breakfast

    At its heart, the merger of customs and immigration was poorly thought out and poorly administered. They are not actually in the same business, other than that they may be found at airports (and not really for immigration, which is mostly handled at department and bureau level). It was also executed poorly, and worst of all the tail of Customs wagged the dog of immigration, so a dogmatic and transactional bureau overtook the more nuanced activity of immigration. Most profoundly, it took on a para-police/military role and mindset under two former qld coppers in Pezzullo and Dutton.

    But apart from that, it was a great idea, well handled.

  3. klewso

    Why do they continue to exist (paid for by us), beyond than to serve the personal whimsies of this government?

  4. David Coles

    Does the Government follow any Westminster principles? The Minister and th departmental head should surely be sent packing for presiding over such serious and apparently continuing administrative failures.

  5. AR

    When has utter & total failure ever been a negative in tory circle? Leventy having ballsed up everything he touched gets the plum role of Ambassador to Washington,
    Lord Bunter the Downer with AWB, providing the ONAnists report to Blot to discredit Wilkie, etc gets to be High Commissioner to St James, presumably to polish up his faux plumby pommy accent and I won’t even mention those who go on to venal sinecures.

  6. Pamela

    It is true that this level of failure and incompetence would not be countenanced in any other area of government. But then lets face who cares about refugees especially the ones who come by boat. If the whole mess was not so secretive and beyond scrutiny, most Australians would be appalled at the cruelty, waste of money and sheer bloody ineptitude of the ABF.
    Do you know who fills our so-called immigration detention centres now- New Zealanders. Immigration detention has morphed into a very expensive post- prison system where people sit and wait for immigration to make decisions. They fly these folk around Australia in chartered jets to keep them moving Melbourne to perth to Christmas Island to Yongah Hill round and round they go.
    The Border Force boyos now round up people at the airport- very friendlylike – to fill beds in detention after all there is a contract with SERCO to keep beds occupied. We run into EU hippie kids rejected at the airport and non white tourists at the detention centres, walking around in a daze or weeping inconsolably as their holiday or family visit becomes a prison experience. Sometimes Borderforce get it right and sometimes not but who cares- these people are not Aussies so send em back.
    If the media had the persistence and patience to turn a spotlight on this horror show, change might be possible. LIB/LAB politicians find it convenient to have this appalling record as a deterrent. Lets face it this is the most important game in town- stopping people at the gate.

  7. Mark Gibson

    It would seem pretty clear that the incompetence Bernard points to is related to a loss of ethical sense of purpose. Good administration is usually linked to a belief among the administrators that they are doing useful, valuable work. Apart from its effect on asylum seekers, the detention regime corrodes that belief with effects well beyond ‘border security’ itself.

  8. Mike Smith

    Because we can make tv shows.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details