Friday 24th of May 2024

Vanstone's Ministerial Accountability

It's a tough cookie, running the Department of Immigration (DIMIA), and to be frank, the DIMIA foibles won't be over until The Fat Lady Sings. And while Vanstone has had no recent reason to break out in song by the looks of it, even Mr Bomber Biggs of the ALP has now actually managed to pronounce the phrase 'Royal Commission' - although the word 'refugees' or the term 'mandatory detention' hasn't been coming from his lips at all since the second Tampa Bill in 2001. At Project SafeCom, we pounced on the Royal Commission option as soon as Labor whispered the term, just to make sure that the Terms of Reference did not contain themselves to the Cornelia Raus and Vivian Solons of this world. But the buck stops with the Minister if things go awfully wrong within the Department - or does it? Listen to what the Democrats' Andrew Bartlett says at Margo Kingston's Web Diary, in a review of the Justice Finn court decision (S v. Secretary, DIMIA [2005] FCA 549) in which Finn concluded that the Minister failed in her duty of care (Finn used the phrase 'culpable neglect') of two Iranians who are now so psychologically damaged that the only place for them is a psychiatric unit at Glenside hospital in Adelaide: "... the Commonwealth contracts out the day-to-day operations of the centres to GSL (Australia) Pty Ltd. But GSL does not provide the health care services at Baxter. Rather, it in turn subcontracts these services out further, to two companies - Professional Support Services (PSS) and International Medical Health Services (IHMS). PSS provides psychological and counselling services. IHMS provides general medical services including registered nurses. IHMS in turn has established contracts with a psychiatrist (who is a private practitioner from Bathurst, NSW) and a Port Augusta Medical Practice to provide psychiatric and general practitioner services." So, what we get is: • Vanstone handballs responsibility to DIMIA;
  • DIMIA handballs responsibility to GSL (Global Solutions Limited);
  • GSL handballs responsibility to Professional Support Services (PSS); and
    • GSL handballs responsibility to International Medical Health Services (IHMS);
      • IHMS handballs responsibility to a psychiatrist; and
      • IHMS handballs responsibility to a Port Augusta Medical Practice.
I think the buck is finally screeching to a halt, but to make the buck actually stop is a real ask in itself with the downward trickle of briefs, responsibilities and readyness for action in the case of a medical emergency. Of course Justice Finn had to remark that "The Commonwealth has, for the most part, put itself in the position where it has relied in substance upon its own mental health care service providers to advise it as to whether it is in fact discharging its duty to care for the detainees in rendering the services provided by those providers. The hazards of its so doing are self-evident and are manifest in these proceedings." Finn's remarks make for a good reason for some of the ministers in Canberra to do a work experience in the Baxter detention centre. Makes it somewhat clearer to everyone involved, when they, one morning at work, run up against The Buck in one of the compounds, a buck, gone mad and ready to maul them. How fast can you run, Senator Vanstone?

Tough Luck

I disagree that Amanda is tough. Aggressiveness, aloofness and gruffness is not toughness.

All those three attitudes are subjectiveness and that is the way she argues, with bluff and gruff and huff because she needs a lot more intelligence than she has. I have seen tough people but they still have a sense of humour.

Has anyone seen Amanda smile? She is the schoolyard bully, the bullygirl with the weight to lean on others. She loves power to throw her weight around playing handball with a few strides and aggression. She is a mouth and a lip. She won't run. She will body-block to a man, or a van, stonewall. She will stonewall. Agility of mind will beat her.

(Jack: I agree, Len. Perhaps my phrase "tough cookie" should have said "tough job" - the cookie was not meant as a term of endearment of Vanstone, not at all. It was intended to describe how difficult it is to run this Department)

our little aussie gulag

Welcome Jack. GSL runs Port Phillip Prison in Victoria & Mt Gambier Prison in SA, as well as all DIMIA Detention Centres across Australia. Its parent runs 5 Immigration Detention Centres for the UK government. Professional Support Services is owned by Davidson Trahaire Corpsych, which is in turn part of the Global Services Division of the Accor Group (Hotels, Tourism etc), whilst International Medical Health Services is owned by International - SOS, the largest international Medical Emergency services organization.

DIMIA clients would doubtless be reassured by the following statement on GSL Australia’s website, under the heading ’Mandatory Detention’ -

‘Mandatory detention is not imprisonment. The critical difference is the absence of punishment. Detainees are part of an administrative process to determine their status: there is no question of punishment. Inside the perimeter of the centres, detainees enjoy relative freedom and the presence of families and single persons of both sexes makes the centres very different from prisons.

It is a sensitive and complex contract, and GSL must comply at all times with the Immigration Detention Standards in performing its obligations (link here). The company is rigorously monitored. Extensive training prior to starting their employment and then throughout their careers ensures that management and staff fully understand their responsibilities under the contract and the unique nature of administrative detention.’

I wonder how some of these organizations would react to their good corporate names being linked to our little aussie gulag?

Welcome Jack

Hey Jack, good to see another join the site. I haven't looked at yours as yet but will do.

I think there are more Australians starting to realise the tragedy of Bonsai's concentration camp strategy and anything that can be done to oppose it is in the right direction. I detest what has been done to refugees, as any human with feelings would.

I get the impression there's a sense that Amanda Hugandkiss will face the drop shortly. I hope so.

But I must ask, what then?

(Jack:Exactly. Last week I was talking to a church worker who has briefed Mandy since she started her portfolio, and her worst fear is to get someone else in the seat, because finally she's admitting that there are blatant lies coming from many levels in DIMIA, and that the few bigots in various levels have corrupted accountability processes. She can't bear the thought that Vanstone risks being replaced by someone else, simply because she's finally started to gets some messages, and anybody else will make matters worse; we wouldn't get some of the backbenchers such as Petro Georgiou or Judy Moylan to replace her, that seems clear without asking...)

Bonsai moves another obedient moron into the job and promises are made and nothing changes. Is that not close to the truth? Or she becomes Treasurer or whatever. New Minister can't be blamed as they weren't in the job. It's a bloody circus and we are still watching the clowns rather than tearing down the tents.

When was there last any Ministerial responsibilty in any Australian Parliament?

No one will be sacked by Howard unless he thinks of it first and I think we all know that. Ministers are never at fault these days. It's always someone else.

On QLD issues I heard Beattie on the radio explaining that they had only been in govt 10 years and all the problems in Health here go back decades, so why should he accept blame?

And people still swallow that?

What does it matter which idiot is in a particular role? The one we want changed is Bonsai as nothing else will change until he goes. Preferably with all his cohorts but I'd rather he went first, on his own.

Bring on the revolution! I think that's what they used to say isn't it??




John, those definitions seem more than strange to me. Maybe they are government definitions and therefore are not open to discussion or criticism.

Well here is some criticism.

"Inside the perimeter of the (mandatary detention) centres, detainees enjoy relative freedom."

John what is the word "enjoy" there for? Enjoy means 'happiness' and is part of the word 'joy'. Surely that is the wrong word. The government must have put that word there. Also if anyone was in a compound and could not get out, do you call that freedom? Freedom is complete freedom. The word freedom is like being pregnant. There is no relative pregancy. Freedom means to be free and have complete freedom.

What if a family was locked up in their house with all their family, a man and his wife and three kids? Do you mean to say they have freedom? People are imprisoned and detained in both instances. There is no difference.

To not have freedom is punishment in both instances.

Maybe the government re-wrote the dictionary.

Re: our little aussie gulag

Hi John.  I think it would be a very good idea if the public were to be made aware of just who is involved in running our concentration camps.

Perhaps even the shareholders of some of the parent companies are unaware of what is happening.

A little bit of name and shame might be good exercise.

corporate governance

Well to create a possibility of the little buggers getting their flight feathers a bit thingy, perhaps we can let other aussies help out by saying "did you know that your favourite holiday destination, runs the detention centres?".

That would be fun to see the revisionist spin doctors of Fuhrer Vanstones department do with as they can.


No you can't say that Daemon because you defame all the innocent holiday destinations. You have to name the precise destination . . . and be 100percent certain that you are correct.