Thursday, July 21, 2005

what does it take to get a new minister around here?

The Palmer Report was released last week, documenting the failure of the Department of Immigration, Multiculurallism and Indigenous Affairs with regards to Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alverez Solon. The list of fuckups continues to grow, with the two Hwang children now released.
Palmer said in his report that:
“Old values and attitudes must be removed, and a new, enabling culture must be fostered”.

I say, how about starting with the Minister?*
As you would expect, Vanstone refuses to accept that she has done anything wrong:
“I don't know that a new minister would do better, frankly”.

Arrogance personified. Is this “ignor[ing] criticism”? Is she “unwilling to question [her]self”? Is she solely interested in “justifying and protecting the status quo”? These are all concerns that Palmer raised about the nature of DIMIA (see pages 164-165).

Palmer goes on — DIMIA is “deaf” to the concerns of others, and, “people seem unwilling to accept ownership of matters beyond their immediate responsibilities … there [is] no effective management oversight”. I really don't know whether he is talking about Vanstone or the department.

Can we have some sort of ministerial responsibility? If Vanstone was a decent Minister, she would recognise that there had been systemic failure of DIMIA under her control. Whether or not this failure is the result of policies and structures implemented under her control is not the issue here — she has allowed it to continue, and has overseen this ongoing "culture of denial and defensiveness" and has done nothing to fix it. We need someone who can fix it.

* I would be happy with a Royal Commission to start with. However, the Howard government actually rewards incompetence and mismanagement, having already promoted the former Secretary of DIMIA, rather than questioning it.

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