All praise this rarity. A story in the Australian media (yesterday’s Australian) on Serco. Short but oh so sweet:
A security company contracted by Serco is being investigated over claims it used unlicensed guards at police detention centres.
Serco is responsible for running Australia’s rapidly expanding network of immigration detention centres.
Northern Territory Licensing, Regulation and Alcohol Strategy executive director Micheil Brodie confirmed that investigators from the Department of Justice had visited the Darwin offices of MSS Security yesterday.
The visit was in response to claims that the firm was using unlicensed security guards.
“The visit was productive and the firm is co-operating fully,” Mr Brodie said.
“It would be premature to form any conclusions at this stage.”
In June 2000, Serco won a five-year contract worth $370 million to run Australia’s detention network.
It has come under periodic fire over its management of the centres, following a number of escapes.
A spokeswoman for Serco confirmed that MSS was one of its subcontractors, but declined to answer further questions. MSS Security also declined to discuss the claims.
A spokesman for the Immigration Department said Canberra was aware of the ongoing investigation.
The news of the investigation came as a Senate estimates committee heard that up to 44 countries may be included in the definition of the government’s proposed regional processing centre.
During a late-night hearing on Tuesday, the head of the Immigration Department, Andrew Metcalfe, said although negotiations for a regional processing centre were ongoing, the region would largely be defined by the member countries of the Bali Process, which works to combat people-smuggling.
“I think there are 44 . . . As I have said, we are largely talking about countries where displaced persons are travelling through, so, of course, we would include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, other countries in Indochina, but the Bali Process incorporates a number of other countries as well,” Mr Metcalfe said.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop called on the government to “immediately define” what countries would be included in the region.
“Ms Gillard has promised to stop the boats with a ‘regional’ processing centre, and yet cannot define what constitutes the ‘region’,” Ms Bishop said. “This will create an enormous magnet. “I think we’ve come across a real Achilles heel of this plan.”