Friday July 15 2005 9:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"The Palmer report, as released yesterday, may be damning, may well be applauded by the Immigration Minister and embarrass the Howard administration, and may have taken the lid off serious lack of checks, reviews and senior managerial accountability in a government department's administrative structures, but it remains an 'internal evaluation report' only for use within the Immigration Department, and as such it will not be powerful to demand complete implementation," refugee advocates Project SafeCom said this morning.
"Mick Palmer, as he admits himself, has not written a government report, but only written a report "for" the government. And in his introduction he states the limitations of the report - that he will not criticise mandatory detention itself."
"Mick Palmer has also shown himself up as already having been co-opted in the culture he tried to address and objectively extrapolate in his report, when he unquestioningly accepts the erroneous interpretation of inmates in Baxter "being engaged in attention-seeking behaviour" (page 60). This type of behaviour interpretation is erroneous and inherent in the prison guard culture in detention centres."
"More important than all, the question now needs to be asked and addressed whether it is mandatory detention itself that's shown up to be so rotten that it's broke. That question needs to be asked by John Howard - but it's clear that the Prime Minister and the Howard government will not ask this question and answer it - and this question needs to also be raised within the ALP. It's not until that question comes on the table - and only one answer is possible - that it's indeed broke and needs to go," spokesman Jack Smit said.
"Mandatory detention remains contrary to all conventions on human rights. Mandatory detention remains in breach of the United Nations Refugee Convention, and Mick Palmer's report is yet another report that shows that this system is so unsustainable that it will always result in a myriad of circumstances getting out of hand and going wrong."
"There is absolutely no guarantee after the energy of Mick Palmer's post-mortem has dissipated, that the immensely complicated system created, and based on the political premise that mandatory detention needs to survive above all else, will actually be able to be feasibly implemented with success to such a level that its gonna work. Palmer's many recommendations are going to be nearly impossible to implement, and the system is more likely to stay broke and prone to further abuses and serious errors in human management."
"Before 1992 we didn't have mandatory detention, and we don't need it now either. If we reverted to the 1992 system of reception centres, we would save millions of dollars, and tens of thousands of traumatising experiences for those who remain victims of ruthless politicians and their agendas."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]