Oct 13, 2005

Albanese and Burke slam immigration department

ALBANESE AND BURKE SLAM IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT

MEDIA RELEASE – ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

13 October 2005

Anthony Albanese, Federal Member for Grayndler, expressed his support for statements made yesterday by Tony Burke MP, Federal Labor Member for Watson and Shadow Minister for Immigration, regarding the Department of Immigration (DIMIA), and slammed Senator Vanstone, Minister for Immigration.

Mr Albanese said, “Mr Burke has again drawn attention to the deplorable treatment of Ian and Janey Han Hwang by the Department of Immigration under Senator Vanstone, a department whose culture has been criticised in the harshest of terms by the Palmer report and most recently by the Comrie report.”

“Yet Senator Vanstone continues to arrogantly and offensively deny responsibility for her department, showing her complete disregard for people whose lives have been irreparably damaged by DIMIA’s repeated bunglings.”

“Senator Vanstone’s “I’m still standing” comments on the day the Comrie report came down are reprehensible and completely offensive,” continued Mr Albanese.

“Prime Minister John Howard and Senator Vanstone need to look the people of Australia in the face and tell the truth about what goes on in the Immigration Department, and about where the “catastrophic” management and culture described in the Comrie report come from, rather than trying to deflect blame."

“They must take responsibility for actions which are the result of directives which clearly come straight from the top. They must take responsibility for the culture in the department which began under then Minister for Immigration Phillip Ruddock, and which will continue as long as Senator Vanstone is at the helm,” he went on.

“Ian and Janey Han Hwang deserve the most sincere apology for the months of their childhood which they lost in immigration detention, for the lost time to their education and the loss of their innocence. They do not deserve blame to be deflected to them by a government too arrogant and uncaring to tell the truth.”

“They and the people of Australia do not deserve to be misled by the Minister for Immigration who tried to claim the children were detained at the request of their mother.”

“I am outraged. The community should be outraged at the disgusting and ongoing arrogance and contempt shown by the Howard government and its Department of Immigration.”

Mr Albanese concluded, “Senator Vanstone should do the only thing appropriate as head of the department: take responsibility and resign.”