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.
Only weeks ago, the department was found to have failed to follow through on its commitments to a parliamentary committee to overhaul its cybersecurity. Immigration was responsible for one of the most serious IT bungles of recent Commonwealth history when it accidentally published the details of more than 10,000 asylum seekers in 2014, potentially enabling other governments to take reprisals against asylum seekers and their families. An (unrelated) ANAO audit later that year found that the then-Customs department was one of the worst of a group of departments examined for their cybersecurity measures. But unusually, after the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts and Audit interrogated the agencies on the issue, the ANAO undertook a follow-up audit.