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Vanstone again

September 12th, 2006

I was sent this sad story of the bloody-mindedness of DIMA under Minister Amanda Vanstone (not that her predecessor Philip Ruddock was any better). Also, last week I read this story of Vanstone using confidential files for her own (political) gain, an offence for which hundreds of public servants have rightly been sacked or disciplined.

I don’t know if it’s by coincidence or design but Howard has been very successful in putting leading so-called ‘wets’ into positions where they are forced to bankrupt themselves morally in order to succeed, or even survive politically. Vanstone is a prime example. She has spent a decade in ministerial office, in which time she has done nothing creditable, and much that is discreditable or worse. Her reward has been a tenuous hold on a Cabinet position, with no serious prospect of promotion to the inner circle.

Update The latest issue of the Monthly reports a number of cases of refugees deported rom Australia, and subsequently murdered in the countries from which they fled. No doubt, as Vanstone asserts, this was all unfortunate coincidence.

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  1. observa
    September 12th, 2006 at 19:48 | #1

    So this bloke came in on a visa and then shot thru for 3 years. Then he made up some cock and bull claim to be a refugee and has strung out our ‘harsh’ immigration system for some 19 years and now he has exhausted our hospitality, he has to go home. And now we’re the bad guys according to a university professor. Pray tell professor, what were the NSW govt doing employing an illegal in our police force? Wasn’t Beazley and Co whinging about OS work visas for foreigners, allowing them to take good honest unionists’ jobs? Who even needs work visas according to the NSW State govt and their professor.

  2. September 12th, 2006 at 20:22 | #2

    Unfair to Vanstone. She is an excellent Minister who is enforcing Australian law with respect to this person. There are procedures for entering Australia as a legal migrant and, as a nation, we are generous at accepting those who wish to come. He didn’t come here legally and the fact he has lived her illegally for a time does not change this. He is a queue jumper.

    Following your logic would make Australian immigration legislation inoperable. We have a right as a country to decide who will settle here – we are not an international ‘common property resource’ to be used as a social experiment by anyone. Most Australians do not want that.

    I think Vanstone does have a heart – a very kind person but noone’s fool.

    John, You will be isolated if you wish to claim that anyone who comes here illegally but stays here long enough has the right to stay. That cannot work even if extensions of stay are sought under endless legal appeals.

  3. observa
    September 12th, 2006 at 20:36 | #3

    In fact it’s worse than that Harry. This is exactly the same sort of monumental bungle by the NSW State Govt that these same people accused DIMA of with Cornelia Rau, yet here is a complete about face. Remember the morally outraged that DIMA was supposed to know Rau was an Australian citizen? Yes just like the NSW State Govt was supposed to know Farruquie was an illegal by the same logic. This man could have been a follower of Osama for all we know, considering the part of the world he came from. What do the buffoons in NSW govt do? Give him a job in the Roads Dept and Police depts? Imagine what he might do with information gathered in those depts in the age of terror if he were so inclined? Some background checks these idiots did. There is a story here as big as the Rau one and we all need to thank the vigilant professor here for drawing it to national attention.

  4. jquiggin
    September 12th, 2006 at 21:13 | #4

    That’s great. DIMA locks an innocent but mentally ill person in a prison camp, ships her off to a foreign country, buries her files and abuses family members who try to look for her. New South Wales hires someone whose papers aren’t in order but who apparently does an excellent job. And you defend DIMA. No wonder we are losing the propaganda war with the terrorists.

    As for suggesting that Vanstone is a kind person, look at her actions in the Al Khateb case, linked above. This stateless refugee had nowhere to go, and Vanstone went all the way to the High Court to assert her right to lock him up indefinitely which she proceeded to exercise.

  5. chris shannon
    September 12th, 2006 at 21:16 | #5

    There does seem to have been a monumental bungle and there also seems to be a person who has been a productive member of the workforce in this country for at least 14 years or so. I’m not sure that “now he has exhausted our hospitality, he has to go home”. It does not read like he came here illegally (he had a 6 month work visa), although he certainly stayed on illegally, and then went to the authorities about 15 years ago and appears to have been allowed to stay for a long time after doing so. My guess is that there is a strong desire to let him stay but a fear of setting the precedent.

  6. September 12th, 2006 at 22:26 | #6

    “This man could have been a follower of Osama for all we know, considering the part of the world he came from.”

    Lovely. A Pakistani who *legally* arrived in Australia in *1987* could be “a follower of Osama” because of “the part of the world he came from”. Thank Jesus he never had an opportunity became a citizen!! Do you think we should round up all the Indonesians who have legally arrived in the last 20 years ’cause they might be followers of Abu Bakar Bashir?

    But back to the main point of the post, which was Vanstone – Harry’s claim that she’s ‘an excellent minister’ is a novel one I’ve not previously encountered, except from members of the Government. I have colleagues in the ‘immigration biz’ and while none of them had a skerrick of fondness for Ruddock, they all agreed that he was exceedingly well briefed, on top of the details of specific cases and invariably presented a well-argued case for why he was legally obliged to be a miserable, heartless bastard. They find Vanstone to be almost the polar opposite.

    I’m genuinely curious as to the basis for Harry’s assessment.

  7. observa
    September 12th, 2006 at 22:28 | #7

    I reckon you’re spot on chris and for what it’s worth I wasn’t exactly expecting to wake up to the usual suspects in the morning media all over this doing their Woodward and Bernstein(should that be Bernhardt?) with Cornelia Catastrophe MkII. You’ve got to go easy on the selective moral outrage if it’s to maintain its impact.

  8. MichaelH
    September 12th, 2006 at 23:05 | #8

    “As for suggesting that Vanstone is a kind person, look at her actions in the Al Khateb case, linked above. This stateless refugee had nowhere to go, and Vanstone went all the way to the High Court to assert her right to lock him up indefinitely which she proceeded to exercise. ” – JQ

    I sleep better at night knowing that fearless Amanda is protecting me from the evil scourge of stateless people in this, the “age of terror” (gasp!). And from all those frightening “boat people”.

    Stateless people and boat children, were will it all end? We’re under attack from all sides and we need more and bigger Amandas armed with more and bigger laws to protect our poor little defenceless selves.

    State power must be enhanced. Amanda should have the ability to lock up anyone, anwhere, anytime, for any reason. Only then will we be safe.

  9. observa
    September 12th, 2006 at 23:18 | #9

    “What’s the story?

    Muhammad Abdul Hameed Faruquie came to Australia on a six month visa in December 1987. He concedes that after that visa expired he was illegal for three years – a situation he remedied himself in July 1991 by reporting to Immigration. They gave him a lecture … and a ‘Section 903’ – at the time a temporary Entry Permit. From then on, as an outcome of class actions he joined and visas correspondingly granted, he was legally in Australia for 14 years. Add his 22 months in detention before January 2006, and it becomes 16 legal years.

    So Faruquie was ‘got’ for overstaying by three years, but sort of ‘forgiven’ by the department.

    But on 29 April 2004, five weeks after the defeat of the last class action to which he had been a party, he was arrested at work by a DIMA squad and placed into the Villawood detention centre as an illegal resident.”

    Forgiven by the Dept my eye. An illegal visa overstayer of some 3 years was able to use the class action legal system to prevent natural justice for 14 years. That is the appalling fact of the matter. If a Rodney Adler or a James Hardie had used this sort of legal obfuscation and game playing for 14 years to avoid the scales of justice, people like John Quiggin would be selec…..suitably outraged.

    To add insult to injury, we might reasonably have expected the NSW Plod Dept to screen for villains, paedophiles and the like before they become plods. Not on your nellie for this hub of community intelligence and law enforcement. Apparently you don’t even have to be a bloody citizen to be a NSW copper in the age of terrorism nowadays. (suddenly Prof Q can see clearly why Bush and Blair were had over WMD by their public intelligence services)

  10. MichaelH
    September 12th, 2006 at 23:33 | #10

    I hope that we also beef up the laws on, and policing of, dog registration.

    Terrorists are bound to exploit this laxity eventually.

  11. September 12th, 2006 at 23:42 | #11

    Something about justice delayed being justice denied and statuates of limitations comes to mind. Given the legal status it does seem pathetic that he was allowed to stay so long.

    Laws that are not enforced are a stupid waste of space. Unfortunately we have more people interested in making laws than enforcing the existing ones.

  12. taust
    September 13th, 2006 at 08:26 | #12

    On what evidence do you base an expectation that a Government department will carryout any task successfully?

  13. conrad
    September 13th, 2006 at 08:42 | #13

    I might go for a third opinion here, and suggest that Vanstone is a useless bureaucrat who doesn’t seem to have had a single decent thought in her life. Alternatively, its easy to see why things go wrong with illegal immigration, since there are large numbers of people trying to cheat the system. This means that it isn’t surprising that things go horribly wrong every and now and then, since no system like that can possibly be perfect. I therefore find it hard to believe that Vanstone is any worse than any other officious bureaucrat might be, let alone politician.

  14. MichaelH
    September 13th, 2006 at 09:05 | #14

    Giving a toss when it “goes wrong” as opposed to not, may qualify as grounds for considering AV worse.

    Though that does assume what we consider “going wrong” is shared by those in question.

    In less generous moments, I suspect that when things are “going wrong”, it generates feelings of satisfaction through a perception of an enhanced deterrant effect.

  15. derrida derider
    September 13th, 2006 at 10:26 | #15

    My experience of Amanda is that she lets her heart rule her head, mainly because she finds mastering necessary detail a bore and won’t do it.

    Unfortunately it’s a fickle heart – she manages to be simultaneously capricious and stubborn. I reckon she’d be great company in a pub (at least by polly standards) – she’s outgoing, fun-loving and witty. But she shouldn’t be let near any job where she has influence over people’s lives.

  16. Bill O’Slatter
    September 13th, 2006 at 11:07 | #16

    “I don’t know if it’s by coincidence or design but Howard has been very successful in putting leading so-called ‘wets’ into positions where they are forced to bankrupt themselves morally”
    It is completely by design. There is nothing Howard enjoys more than corrupting these so called idealists. Ruddoch is a prime example. In the end they are shadows of their former selves and little but Howard clones. If he fails to twist them to his ends he’ll make every effort to get them out of the Liberal party.

  17. StephenL
    September 13th, 2006 at 11:29 | #17

    Harry Clarke’s description of Vanstone as “an excellent minister” is interesting. Leaving aside her behaviour in her current job, it is worth recalling that in a previous position she prevented hundreds of scientists doing work for which grants had been approved because she preferred to wait for the opportune moment to announce their grants. People were left waiting months not knowing that their applications for funding had been accepted because Vanstone wanted to get some good publicity out of announcing these things – something that never seemed to actually happen.

  18. Paul Walter
    September 13th, 2006 at 13:37 | #18

    Must say I find D.Derider’s comment contradictory. At best she is infantile self indulgent, then? What is she doing in government?
    O’Slatter’s comment hit home, though. Yes, yes, yes! many times, many times.
    Back to Derider. Sorry, more likely she does not possess the bloodpumping location of sentiment you so imagine exists in that obese torso.
    I proffer as very recent evidence, a report that she is also about chuck out another group of East Timorese. That mighty “heart” beats stronger than ever.

  19. Bring Back EP at LP
    September 13th, 2006 at 14:12 | #19

    observa and the rest.
    Followers of Usama who attempt to kill people in Western Counties are never illegal immigrants. They sometimes are lax in their paperwork but otherwise on the surface first class people on legal visas.

  20. September 13th, 2006 at 21:53 | #20

    I had one excellent experience of Ms. Vanstone helping a critically endangered family in Iraq. I was impressed with her and with DIMA.

    I get tired on this sort of loose personal abuse of immigration ministers who will inevitably have to implement tough policies. There is an excess demand for entry to Australia with current immigration policies and as a matter of policy whgile having a generous per capita refugee policy we target business immigrants.

    I think Ms Rau was an unfortunate but understandable mistake.

    Australia does have the power to grant asylum to refugees whose lives are endangered and does so. It is unfair to attribute mistakes in this regard to Ms. Vanstone.

  21. burrah
    September 14th, 2006 at 02:09 | #21

    I know lots of Chinese from malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong who come here on 3 year visas. They then have to go home and apply again to come back to Australia.
    Why should Muhammad Faruquie be given special consideration?
    Is it the case that if you breach immigration laws, you then are exempt from them?
    At least that is what PQ seems to be suggesting.

  22. September 14th, 2006 at 03:24 | #22

    If your assessment of this “debacle” is similar to your assessment of the Plame leak by Rove then you have obviously wasted 5 minutes of my time.

  23. jquiggin
    September 14th, 2006 at 07:03 | #23

    Easycure, you appear to be in the wrong thread, and probably on the wrong blog.

    Harry, my general point was made in the post. Given the policies we have, which are much more brutal than those of countries facing far more pressure (and were even worse until some element of humanity reasserted itself in the last couple of years), it’s obvious that anyone who takes the job of Immigration minister is going to do terrible things, and that’s true of Vanstone, as it was of Ruddock before her. Obviously, the primary responsibility for those policies rests with Howard.

    Even so, the Al Khateb case, the circumstances of which could never apply to more than a handful of people, gave her a chance to redeem herself somewhat, and she below it.

  24. September 14th, 2006 at 10:23 | #24

    I can understand how some people would say he (Faruquie) started as an overstayer, therefore he was at fault. However, he was remorseful and took steps to rectify that fault, which took him many years and during which the immigration department led him to believe that the outcome was successful. After “forgiving him, sort of” it is despicable for them to change their minds.

    This person has worked hard and earned the respect of his peers. I would say he embodies the kind of “Australian values” which Kimmoi would like visa applicants to sign up to!

    I would also have more sympathy for the “Well, he’s an overstayer” argument if there were not tens of thousands of British and European overstayers here at any one time. If we are to say that Faruquie’s treatment is simply DIMIA exercising its responsibility in a dispassionate manner, then why are they turning a blind eye to tens of thousands of “anglos” while going to great lengths, and presumably a lot of taxpayer expense, to kick out one Pakistani?

    Why the double standard? Commenters from the right are always invoking the idea of fairness in immigration matters – don’t jump the queue, wait your turn, always go through the correct channels – yet on a comments thread on another blog, a very well-known (to us) right wing commenter made the observation that he and his friends, who weren’t much in favour of marriage per se, were willing to use their non-married status to enter marriages of convenience to allow overseas mates or mates of mates to “jump the queue”.

    If DIMIA has one good reason to refuse this guy a visa, then let them tell us. At the moment it just seems there’s one rule for European and British overstayers, and another for brown ones.

  25. Habib
    September 14th, 2006 at 11:06 | #25

    Some evidence, please, where we on the right have advocated soft/preferential treatment for Anglo/European overstayers/illegals?

    When I was involved in the enforcement of immigration law, 90% of deportees were caucasian, and they didn’t have access to the support base and legal assistance on offer to “asylum seekers” of a NESB.

    What bollocks. This bloke has clogged the court/appeal system for over a decade, and still won’t go- no wonder when like the Bhaktiari clan he has the vocal support of the perpetually outraged, who seem to think that due process only applies to those they find reprehensible.

    Oh and BTW, the allegations of murdered deportees are just that- allegations; I am yet to see any actual evidence of the facts.

    And of course no-one ever gets murdered here in Australia.

  26. derrida derider
    September 14th, 2006 at 12:07 | #26

    Paul Walter, the experience on which I based my comments is first hand. And read it again – it wasn’t complimentary at all.

  27. observa
    September 14th, 2006 at 12:49 | #27

    ‘After “forgiving him, sort ofâ€? it is despicable for them to change their minds.’
    Helen they didn’t forgive him but were obliged to give him successive temp visas while he completely exhausted his class action, presumably aided and abetted in this by the usual gaggle of our wet, political lawyering classes. The fact that the’system’ allowed this outrageous delay of justice is criminal in itself. There is no way this man paid for over a decade of legal obfuscation in the courts. The taxpayer no doubt paid dearly for much of it.

  28. observa
    September 14th, 2006 at 13:27 | #28

    “The latest issue of the Monthly reports a number of cases of refugees deported rom Australia, and subsequently murdered in the countries from which they fled.”
    Weasel words professor, unless you have the evidence to show out govt deported refugees rather than illegals, who were unfortunately and subsequently the victims of murder overseas.

  29. sdfc
    September 14th, 2006 at 14:47 | #29

    First Observa accuses JQ of weasel words and then gives an excellent example of weaselling himself. Top work.

  30. observa
    September 14th, 2006 at 15:51 | #30

    I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt about whether deportees were in fact subsequently murdered overseas. Whether they were refugees sent to their deaths is what’s at issue here.

  31. Bozo
    September 14th, 2006 at 16:13 | #31

    Why does responsibility for this rest with Howard? Nick Bolkus signed an agreement with the Chinese to take back involuntary returnees. He then went and said that of course we could take the Chinese at their word not to persecute them. Never seemed to bother anyone when Keating was PM, why so now?

  32. jquiggin
    September 14th, 2006 at 17:42 | #32

    “Labor/the Democrats did it first”

    This seems to be the all-purpose response from the Right these days, whether they’re defending detention camps, kangaroo courts, bogus mockumentaries, or the mess that’s been made of fighting Al Qaeda.

    In this case, at least, the accusation seems valid, though as always, a bad precedent is stretched to justify policies that are far worse. Howard’s detention policies are indeed an extension of those begun under Keating. Presumably, for those who think Keating could do no wrong, that’s an adequate defence.

  33. Paul Walter
    September 14th, 2006 at 17:58 | #33

    Derrider Derider. Please read my post properly. I was reiterating your sentiments (apart from the proposition that she is”good hearted”- never in a million years!).
    Remember, I always write my comments with Foucaultian clarity.

  34. observa
    September 14th, 2006 at 19:14 | #34

    I’ll stick by Amanda Vanstone John until such time as scurrilous slurs are more than just that and you can stick with warm fuzzy types like Andrew Theophanus. Deal?

  35. sdfc
    September 14th, 2006 at 21:51 | #35

    On what basis are people who escaped from Afghanistan and Iraq not refugees?

  36. Hal9000
    September 14th, 2006 at 22:45 | #36

    It’s interesting that the dog whistle Howard & Co blow on immigration summons up fears of yellow hordes coming here and stealing Aussie jobs (and other things besides). So he locks up a few dozen unfortunates for years at vast expense, and reels in the votes. I leave the sleazy amorality of this policy alone, but the careful exclusion of the media from showing how these people are made to suffer speaks for itself.

    Meanwhile the yellow hordes are indeed invited in to steal Aussie jobs, via 457 visas. and WorkChoices. I wonder how long it’ll take for the penny to drop out there in voter land that Howard & Co have conned them?

  37. observa
    September 15th, 2006 at 02:16 | #37

    “On what basis are people who escaped from Afghanistan and Iraq not refugees?”
    When they fail to seek asylum in their first port of call and then go country shopping halfway round the world, but I thought the particular gentleman in question was a Pakistani visa overstayer and serial abuser of our immigration legal system, albeit with some indigenous collusion from Andrew Theophanous types. You need to stay focussed and not wander off halfway round the world sdfc. Otherwise you could be taken for an illegal.

    “…but the careful exclusion of the media from showing how these people are made to suffer speaks for itself. ”
    It’s really to keep immature and slack reporters away from Hezbollah type spin and stage managing, so that those who are easily taken in by such theatrics can sleep better at night Hal. It’s all for their own good, as well as for the privacy of the individuals concerned. We treat our own citizens on remand the same way when they’re picked up in places they shouldn’t be.

    Interesting you should mention the yellow hordes taking all our jobs. That would often be the police officers, nurses, doctors that the State Labor Govts are so keen to get their hands on. Witness our NSW plod dept who were so keen to get staff they forgot to ask Mr Farruquie if he was actually an Australian or had a 457 visa. Dr Patels or Mr Farruquies, they’re all the same to desperate State Premiers these days. Truth is the vast majority of 457 visas are for pommys, like the 200 pommy bobbies brought to Ranndom recently because noone wants to be a copper anymore. Not surprisng when successive Labor govts have turned our coppers into neutered girliemen social workers, who are more into understanding crims than locking them up and punishing them. True the victims do get a nice glossy victims of crime book these days to help them understand themselves. Now the girlies who run the plod depts want coppers to have university degrees. More basketweaving courses run by the party faithful naturally. I’ll let the Vic police association explain it to you http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,20393779-5006029,00.html
    Yes that’s why we have to bring in new chums on work visas and pray to God they want to stay permanently later on to do the jobs no local wants to do under States Labor anymore. That’s not the story their mates Combet, Burrows and Co are stage manging like Hezbollah ambulance drivers though. In this case its them evil coolies rather than them Joos!

  38. Don Wigan
    September 15th, 2006 at 17:41 | #38

    You’re really making us suffer for Port missing out on the finals, obby.

  39. September 15th, 2006 at 18:16 | #39

    I thought the particular gentleman in question was a Pakistani visa overstayer and serial abuser of our immigration legal system

    It’s a complete distortion to call him a serial abuse of the immigration legal system. What he was DOING was spending years and years trying to comply with a Kafkaesque process and being given the run around, while working hard, paying taxes and actually making a contribution in the fight against crime – something I would have thought you would agree with. It was the immigration officials who were the abusers. Then after years of this guy paying his dues and going through channels, Oh, we’ve lost form number 12345678DS$GFH00000/M, you’re out mate.

    Monty Python stuff, except it isn’t funny.

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