//
you're reading...
Australian Current Affairs

Australian detention centres are “Fawlty Towers” of global immigration community


Protest at Villawood Detention Centre in 2011

Protest at Villawood Detention Centre in 2011

In a star-studded field of dysfunctional federal government departments it is difficult to nominate the standout performer.

Customs and Border Protection is beset with serious corruption and a declining ability to check incoming cargo for illegal firearms and drugs.

The Australian Crime Commission apparently sees more danger in performance-enhancing supplements than illegal drugs, suburban gunbattles and spiralling organised crime.

But for genuine Yes Minister debacles, you can’t go past the Immigration Department.

In what should be a relatively straightforward portfolio protecting the nation from asylum-seekers and “queue jumpers”, the department has managed to become the Fawlty Towers of the global immigration community.

Unlike the US we don’t have tens of thousands of Mexican nationals camped on the borders waiting for an opportunity to enter illegally.

Unlike Britain, we don’t face the unintended consequences of EU agreements that have loosened traditional border controls. We face no obligations other than international refugee agreements. Indeed, our isolation should be our greatest strength and a natural barrier to passive invasion by illegal immigrants.

We also have fewer illegal immigrants arriving than most other nations and that should mean detecting, detaining and processing them should be a relatively simple operation. But with a government that was, until last week, handcuffed to an increasingly irrational Greens party policy on immigration, as well as pandering to every fringe group connected to the immigration gravy train, simple ideas quickly become difficult and we now appear to have chaos, from the bottom to the top.

This example would be frightening if it weren’t farcical. It occurred at Villawood Detention Centre, in Sydney’s bullet riddled southwestern suburbs.

On April 19, 2011, increasingly worried NSW Police held a desktop exercise with staff at Villawood to test the staff’s capabilities handling public order incidents. A scenario was put forward of the detention centre being torched during a riot and they were asked for an operational solution.

According to evidence given to the Senate select committee, the staff said: “We would open the gates up”. Which begs the question: “And then what?”

NSW Police suggested a plan to remove the detainees from danger in buses under police escort to another commonwealth property at nearby Holsworthy. The scenario was dismissed by Immigration officials as “unrealistic” because “the situation would never arise”.

Lo and behold, just 24 hours later, the unrealistic scenario occurred. What ensued looked like an unscreened episode of Fawlty Towers. A few inmates gained entry to the roof of one building and began a protest. Soon there were more than 100 inmates involved and someone lit a fire in the compound.

NSW Police attended but had to remain outside the centre because of jurisdictional issues that had not been resolved, despite many meetings between key stakeholders to try to reach agreement on a memorandum of understanding on jurisdiction which had passed through more hands than a well-worn $5 note.

Meanwhile frantic phone calls from the detention centre to the Australian Federal Police in Sydney (who had the jurisdictional responsibility) revealed that only 22 were trained and available to handle such incidents. However they were not actually available right then.

So calls were made to Canberra where a force of appropriately trained and equipped officers was dispatched. By car and bus. It took several hours for them to arrive, like the troops in an old western who leave the fort by horse to rescue their comrades from an Indian attack.

Unfortunately, when they arrived they discovered that the roof height was greater than 2m and the Australian and New Zealand standards that the AFP operates under state any height greater than 2m requires “approved restraints” which, of course, they did not have.

So they decided to negotiate rather than remove the offenders from the roof and restore order. Meanwhile the NSW Police, complete with a riot squad, watched the farce unfold and were powerless to act.

The rioters left the roof at will to go to the toilet, recharge their mobile phones, talk to the media and have meals but no one considered arresting them as they came down for their break.

Instead, a senior Immigration official stuck his head through the roof and spoke to the rioters. Strangely those discussions fell on deaf ears and the rioters stayed on the roof for a few more days.

According to evidence given by Assistant Commissioner Frank Minnelli, the NSW Police, who are seemingly not afraid of heights, could have got the rioters down.

And the lessons learnt from this incident?

Nearly two years after this farce, Immigration has managed to sign an MOU with the NT and Tasmanian police. The others – including NSW – have yet to sign.

Detainees know our response to illegal behaviour is a joke.

Meanwhile the AFP should advertise for unemployed trapeze artists to help in future incidents.

Source: The Australian – “The joke’s on us in immigration’s Fawlty Towers”
 

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Australian detention centres are “Fawlty Towers” of global immigration community

  1. Get them out of our country! They will never integrate. Look at the UK stats, all the locals are leaving

    Posted by burleighheads | February 28, 2013, 23:01

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Australian opposition party says asylum-seeker bridging visa system is out of control | Craig Hill - March 1, 2013

  2. Pingback: Australian Immigration Department criticises government policy as “harsh” | Craig Hill - April 20, 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 14,941 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

Cadence Column: Asia, October 18, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, October 18, 2021

According to Chinese and US claims, China has a high-orbit, hypersonic missile that can hit a target within 24 miles. And, that’s why China is the new boss of the world and everyone else should hate America. The end. But, that’s not the end in the mind of Taiwan or the US Pentagon. This week, […]

China ‘making its nuclear submarines harder to detect’

China ‘making its nuclear submarines harder to detect’

China is upgrading its nuclear missile-equipped submarines to make them harder for rival powers such as the US to detect, reports suggest. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has redesigned its type 094 submarines to make them quieter, The South China Morning Post reports. Defence experts believe the Chinese 094 submarine can carry and launch the […]

Could China’s economy collapse?

Could China’s economy collapse?

For almost half a century, Chinese officials have overseen one of the greatest economic transformations in human history. The country has gone from collectivized farms and famine to world-leading tech companies and gleaming megacities connected by superfast trains. More than 800 million Chinese have been pulled out of poverty as the Communist Party and its leader […]

China’s economic crisis is much bigger than expected – its property market, the largest in the world, is collapsing

China’s economic crisis is much bigger than expected – its property market, the largest in the world, is collapsing

The situation in China is much worse than originally thought.  The largest property market in the world is set to collapse and the ramifications will impact the entire world.  We’ve been discussing China’s economic issues for years.  Recently this was even discussed with Steve Bannon on The War Room. We now have information that the […]

UN must condemn forced organ harvesting in China

UN must condemn forced organ harvesting in China

Doctors, lawyers, and politicians from three continents called on the international community to ensure an end to China’s practice of forced organ harvesting during the first half of the World Summit on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting. Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) further calls upon the participants of the United Nations General Assembly […]

China says its J-31 is superior to F-35, and will be new carrier-borne fighter jet

China says its J-31 is superior to F-35, and will be new carrier-borne fighter jet

Dwnews.com describes the J-31 in its report “曝歼31配新型导弹高清照 被指将终结美军空中优势[图]” as China’s new carrier-borne fighter jet for China’s Type 003 aircraft carrier. The speculation is based on the J-31’s Chief Designer Sun Cong’s recent comment on social media that China will make public its new carrier-borne fighter jet by year end. The report describes the J-31 as […]

The reason for the discussion on the Tobin tax in China

The reason for the discussion on the Tobin tax in China

Tax every major financial transaction for social equity by a fraction and allocate the funds to redistribution initiatives. The Tobin tax is the shattered dream of the anti-globalist left, even if its history is slightly more complex. Formulated in 1972 by James Tobin, the 1981 Nobel laureate in economics, it aimed to stabilize the financial […]

Is another Cultural Revolution underway in China?

Is another Cultural Revolution underway in China?

Chinese President Xi Jinping is cracking down on several sectors of Chinese society, including technology and entertainment. This has some Beijing watchers worried a new version of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution is underway. Here’s everything you need to know. What was the Cultural Revolution? It was a brutal 10-year period between 1966-76 (with most […]

Cadence Column: Asia, October 11, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, October 11, 2021

Biden is creating a special center within CIA for China. Xi Jinping is irate. Biden knows China almost as well as Trump. He met with Chinese officials as Vice President. While Trump played a “good cop” routine on China, Biden is in a better position to be less diplomatic. After all, hating on China does […]

The curious case of Pakistan, China, TTP and BRI

The curious case of Pakistan, China, TTP and BRI

On 1st October Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan broke all hell loose when on the Turkish government-run TV channel, TRT World, he disclosed that the Pakistani government is in secret talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), facilitated by the Afghan Taliban. The Pakistanis were upset for many reasons. They were upset that they were kept in […]

%d bloggers like this: