Not long ago we had the Cornelia Rau 'affair', then came details that Cornelia was only one of 33 Australian citizens wrongfully held in detention by the immigration department in only 7 months between July 2003 and February 2004.
As more details of the 33 come out, it has been revealed that Vivian Alvarez, born in the Phillipines but is now an Australian citizen, was deported to her place of birth 4 years ago and hasn't been heard from since. The Australian government says it is doing everything in their power to find her but Interpol says otherwise. The deportation left behind her 2 children who are now in foster care until their mother is found.
Something must be seriously wrong with our immigration policy if people are deported from their country of official residence. It also is fairly damning of medical services for the mentally as both Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez were sufferers of mental illnesses.
The inquiry that is in progress to investigate the Cornelia Rau case is a start towards a finding out what went wrong, but the inquiry is being held behind closed doors. What is the immigration department trying to hide I wonder? Are they worried that more details like the 32 others that have been held wrongfully? Are they worried that the public may find out that the current immigration policy is truly wrong and dehumanises people seeking asylum?
Listening to Hack on Triple J this afternoon (Real audio or Windows media streams of the program are avalable), an independent research group has found out that a majority of the 33 wrongfully held by the immigration department were not Australian born, had poor english skills and were non-white. The 33 were held between July 2003 and February 2004. In the last 10 years since Tampa, which precipitated the major change in Australian immigration policy, how many more Australian have been held in detention?
There are some serious questions that need answering by Amanda Vanstone. Of course, John Howard was probably never informed by his ministers and advisors just like every other incidents that might damage his position. Speaking of which, the number of times 'Honest John' has used the 'I was not told' excuse really seems absurd. How can someone who is supposed to be running the country and takes responsibility for all the good things doesn't know about the bad things?