Newly appointed Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has been one of the most media-friendly politicians in Australia over the yuletide period. Primarily, he has taken advantage of moral panic — over claims that “African gangs” are terrorising the streets of Melbourne — to decry the Victorian state government’s “politically correct,” “go soft” message to its police force.

However, Crikey understands there have been issues under Dutton’s watch that are conspicuously absent from Dutton and Border Force’s public proclamations. 

Crikey can report that two men escaped from Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation detention facility in Broadmeadows north of Melbourne on New Year’s Eve. It’s not clear whether the two men have been apprehended, but Crikey understands that either way, they have not been returned to Broadmeadows.

Crikey contacted Border Force to ask whether the escape took place, if so, whether the escapees had been caught, and why the public nor media had not been notified. They did not get back to us before deadline.

Crikey has learned that visitors to the facility have been subject to greater scrutiny and a generally tense atmosphere since the escape. 

The media silence around the security breach is strange given Dutton’s prominence on the airwaves of late.

Dutton blamed the apparent crime wave on the “joke” sentences being handed down to offenders, and a failure to call the issue what it is: ” Of course it’s African gang violence”. On 2GB back on January 3, he went into oddly specific (and completely unsupported) scenarios around people fearing home invasions and car thefts, of people “too scared to go out to restaurants of a night time because they are followed home by these gangs”. 

Of course Dutton is comfortable talking about this veritable pick-n-mix of right-wing pet peeves, despite it not falling under his area of responsibility (even in its recently expanded form). Meanwhile Australian Border Force has put out one press release this year, a little wrap-up of the tireless work their officers have put in over the past two weeks, catching criminals and processing passengers. Essential reading.

 

Peter Fray

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