The Palmer report

The release yesterday of the Palmer report into Australia’s Immigration Department was a depressing affair. Minister Amanda Vanstone may argue that her department “gets it right most of the time”, but a long list of damaged refugees would disagree.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s David Marr neatly summarises Palmer’s findings. The Immigration Department, writes Palmer, operates “a culture in which detention of suspected unlawful non-citizens is the paramount consideration.” Furthermore, “a culture of denial and self-justification that the inquiry found to be at the heart of the problem. Rigid, narrow thinking stymies initiative and limits the ability to deal successfully with new and complex situations.”

Christine Rau, sister of wrongly imprisoned Cornelia Rau, writes of profound anger and shock but also hope that a dysfunctional Immigration Department will be restructured:

“I hope that Cornelia’s and Vivian’s legacy will be for us as a society to take a long, hard look at our immigration detention policies and explore humane alternatives. Surely this can be done without exploiting people’s fear of being overrun by hordes of ‘others’.”

A permanent stain on Australia lives and breathes through our government’s inhumane policies. Let history judge them harshly.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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