Sunday February 18, 2007 00:01am WST
For Immediate Release
"The spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Mr Sandy Logan, has seriously overstepped the mark in his remarks about the South Australian Public Advocate Mr John Harley in coming to the defence of an indefensible, and disturbing development in the praxis of his Department, where detainees with serious mental health issues are removed from Glenside Psychiatric Hospital," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
In the remarks, made to Nance Haxton of ABC Radio's Saturday AM, Mr Logan stated in reply to concerns raised by the Public Advocate about the return to detention contrary t psychiatrists advice, that:
"...the last time I checked, the public advocate of South Australia was neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist, so anything that he has had to say or any press releases that he had issued has had absolutely no influence on the decision of the medical practitioners involved or the Department of Immigration..."
See transcript online at http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2007/s1850308.htm
"It does not befit Mr Logan to undermine the public and government-appointed duty of Mr Harley, and his suggestion that Mr Harley as a public advocate can only comment on DIAC's seeming undermining of independent medical advice if he's medically trained, sounds more like "Minister-induced spin-delirium" than a good representation role of a government department as a spokesman."
"More disturbingly for refugee advocates who have already expressed serious concerns about this issue to Project SafeCom, Mr Logan confirms what seems like a renewed push to remove truly independent psychiatrists out of the loop in DIAC's detention arrangements."
"By restricting any time spent outside detention, but instead keeping detainees - also those with extremely serious mental health issues - inside the confines of "true detention" arrangements, even if that is in "designated community housing" the DIAC can control which psychiatrists see its clients."
"We bet," Mr Smit said, "that the psychiatrists contracted by the DIAC inside the parameters of its detention arrangements, will not be those who are prepared to say that it is DIAC's detention itself that causes the mental illness, because that would be not at all useful to the Department and to the new Minister for Immigration, especially in a Federal election year."
"And finally, perhaps we can through today's comments get a glimpse of the true reasons for the sacking of Amanda Vanstone, who may well have shown more heart and compassion in office than Kevin Andrews does," Mr Smit said.
"The greatest concern arising from this practice is, that the Department of Immigration now seems to return to its shocking pre-Palmer Report and its awful pre-Cornelia Rau days with these practices."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]