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June 20, 2005

over the top

Sophie Panopoulos, the Victorian Liberal MP, called the mandatory detention rebels led by Victorian Liberal Petro Georgiou, "political terrorists". How strange:


Terrorists? The rebels actually achieved some reforms: that children aren't detained and will get families out of detention; most or all the present long-term detainees will be released into the community; what the immigration minister does about long-term detainees will be the scrutinized and investigated by the Ombudsman, whose recommendations about these cases will be tabled in Parliament.

It was the political risk posed by Georgiou's plan to introduce private member's bills challenging the mandatory detention system that forced the beginnings of a culture change.

Few trust the Immigration Department these days. It has developed a culture of rewarding those bureaucrats who say no to all asylum seekers and who devise clever ways to treat those in mandatory detention as badly as possible.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at June 20, 2005 07:33 PM

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Sophie has ended her dismal career, you'd expect. Although these days, maybe, you'd just hope.

Posted by: wbb at June 20, 2005 11:52 PM

While the Georgiou changes are certainly welcomed, it is obvious that Howard had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards accepting them because of his fear to appear divided. His motivation wa purely political (surprise surprise) he could not give a stuff about the plight of asylum seekers.

Andrew Bartlett has a great post on this issue:

Personally, I am amazed at how limited the changes are, how misleading the portrayal of the changes have been and how even more power has been given to a Minister and Department that has been shown to be highly dysfunctional. I am irritated but not surprised at how absurdly positive the portrayal of these changes has been in the mainstream media.

It has to be remembered that Petro Georgiou's Bills were a compromise to begin with - reflecting numerous Parliamentary Committee and other reports over many years - which still left many problem areas untouched.

And Larvatus Prodeo reports on the Kerry O'Brien interview with Howard about it:

KERRY O’BRIEN: Will this policy change apply to Afghani families with children in Nauru who are, after all - who have been in detention longer than others?

JOHN HOWARD: It doesn’t affect people in offshore areas.

KERRY O’BRIEN: So the sympathy you are now displaying for children and their parents in detention in Australia doesn’t extend to Afghani refugees in detention in Nauru under our direction?

JOHN HOWARD: I mean if you mean by that are we planning to bring them to Australia to put them in residential accommodation? No. But the conditions of detention in Nauru are somewhat different from what they are in Australia.

KERRY O’BRIEN: So that’s OK?

JOHN HOWARD: Kerry, nothing is OK in that sarcastic sense, and you know it’s not. But we had a difficult problem to deal with, and we have tried to strike a balance between sensitivity and the national interest and the national interest is certainly served by this country continuing to have a firm mandatory detention policy, and whatever people may say about Nauru, we would never have stopped the flood of boats coming to this country if we had not amongst other things had offshore processing. Offshore processing, along with turning the boats back to the north of Australia, mandatory detention and the excision of islands from the migration zone, all of those things taken together stopped the large number of boats coming to this country and effectively provided that protection for our borders. So I continue to very strongly defend the offshore processing of unauthorised arrivals to Australia.

Posted by: Guido at June 21, 2005 10:31 AM


Piers Ackerman writing in todays Daily Telegraph misses the point:

Feisty Sophie Panopoulos, the very successful Victorian MP, quite accurately described the Georgiou push as akin to political terrorism, whatever some of the wets in the community may think.

Any attempt to hold a government hostage to the wishes of four or five backbenchers is a kind of political terrorism, and it would be difficult to find a more apt description of the stunt, as many backbenchers who are more gratefully cognisant of the electoral value of the Government's tough stance on illegal entrants acknowledge.

Then we have this:

When the inevitable occurs, and another shipment of undocumented illegal entrants is lost, will the Georgiou gang blame themselves or will they again turn on their Government and condemn its attempts to manage an orderly migration program, with guaranteed places for genuine refugees and a managed settlement program?

Piers seems to have forgotten that reforms have taken place because the government was out of step with public sentiment.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at June 21, 2005 11:19 AM

ignore piers. he was also the guy who claimed that muslims worship potatoes. what am i talking about?

see ...this

Posted by: Irf Yusuf at June 21, 2005 11:46 AM

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