Monday March 12, 2007 7:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"While the Australian taxpayer is forced to dig deep in the hip pocket every eight days to find another million dollars for keeping 85 people locked up on Christmas Island at a cost of more than 1300 dollars per person per day, the Department of Immigration - in announcing that it now allows phone calls by the Sri Lankans, and an invitation for mobile phones to be sent by refugee advocates in the Australian community - gives the Sri Lankans access only to one telephone line," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"This is the Immigration Department that, following the Palmer Report, revamped its operations ethics, a Department that has as its new slogan since Palmer the term "People Are Our Business", a Department that has a bottomless pit of government dollars at its disposal, yet it cannot get into its operations strategy the notion to connect enough telephone lines in the remote island's Immigration Processing Centre, and instead it resorts to misusing the good nature of a large "army" of advocates and refugee supporters with its request to send mobile phones to the island," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"In addition, the quality of mobile phone connections from the is highly questionable, only Telstra GSM phones work from the island, and they need to be posted by Express Mail, otherwise it takes eight weeks for the phones to reach the island."
"The only good news in this announcement is that, firstly, the primary assessment interviews seem to have been completed, and secondly, that the much-announced expected relocation away from Christmas Island to Nauru seems to have been shelved," Mr Smit said.
"For the rest, the audacity of the DIAC to suggest that people in the Australian community now dig into their pockets and pay for phones because the Department is too lousy to service their clients adequately, stinks to high heaven," Mr Smit said.
"If this were a private company that has as its first priority strategies matching its slogan, there would be serious trouble coming from management and possibly sackings. The fact that DIAC seems to get away with this highly inferior service delivery, is a glaring sign that in many ways DIAC is still the same shonky operator we know oh so well," Mr Smit concluded.
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]