//
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 )

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 15,358 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

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

United States outmanoeuvres Russia once again? 

United States outmanoeuvres Russia once again? 

In a recent briefing, the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Avril Haines warned, “I would characterize it as the Russians aren’t winning, and the Ukrainians aren’t winning, and we’re at a bit of a stalemate here.” So, where is the Russia-Ukraine war heading? What is Russian President Putin planning next? Is Europe ready for […]

China is defying global order to expand power, US admiral warns

China is defying global order to expand power, US admiral warns

The Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are destabilizing international order in an effort to expand their global power, Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the Indo-Pacific Command, warned lawmakers during a House hearing on Tuesday. In his written testimony submitted to the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, Adm. Aquilino explained that the Department […]

China – Autocracy and decoupling technical tests

China – Autocracy and decoupling technical tests

We have noticed that the embrace with China had become suffocating in the last twenty years. The West universe of consumers and China the factory of the world. We started with modest and low value-added materials and products, to refine the trajectory and revolution to the most refined and complex technologies, such as 5G and […]

Four ways China is growing its media influence in Southeast Asia

Four ways China is growing its media influence in Southeast Asia

As President Biden welcomes leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to a special summit this week in Washington, D.C., his administration is affirming Beijing as the U.S.’s main rival and underscoring the region’s importance in U.S.-China competition. The two-day event is part of the U.S effort to woo ASEAN members caught in a […]

Confronting Russia will deter China, says Japanese defense minister

Confronting Russia will deter China, says Japanese defense minister

A strong international response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine is critical to deterring China from embarking on territorial conquests in Taiwan or the South China Sea, said Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. “China has been carefully observing the current situation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and they are paying particularly close attention to what […]

How Russia-Ukraine copied Finland war without lessons

How Russia-Ukraine copied Finland war without lessons

Finland is a unique country with a distinct language and culture. However, its possession was always contested between Sweden and Russia. Though Finland mainly remained under Swedish control in 1809, it was annexed by Russia. Using the end of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in late 1917, Finland declared its independence from the […]

China plans system to take out asteroids hurtling toward earth

China plans system to take out asteroids hurtling toward earth

China plans to develop a system for monitoring asteroids that pose a threat to earth, highlighting the nation’s growing ambitions for its space program. The country will also explore ways for taking out asteroids that endanger the planet, Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the China National Space Administration, said in a TV interview, according to […]

Russia-Japan tensions flare anew over the Kurils

Russia-Japan tensions flare anew over the Kurils

Formally, Russia is not at war with Ukraine, where it claims to be conducting a so-called “special military operation.” But with Japan, given that Moscow and Tokyo never signed a peace treaty officially ending World War II, the two Asian neighbors remain technically at war. And after Japan recently described four Kuril islands whose ownership […]

Solomon Islands has Washington in state of alarm after a security pact with China

Solomon Islands has Washington in state of alarm after a security pact with  China

A tiny island chain in the South Pacific has Western governments scrambling after it agreed to a security pact with China that the United States and its allies fear could enhance Beijing’s military power in this strategically important region.  The deal between China and the Solomon Islands, a nation of 700,000 people that had deadly […]

China says its ‘future helicopters’ will be equipped with ground-breaking technologies

China says its ‘future helicopters’ will be equipped with ground-breaking technologies

Militaries all around the world are looking at integrating modern technology into their military weapons. China, as usual, appears to be making serious efforts to prepare for the future battleground, this time, with plans to include artificial intelligence and high-speed features in its future choppers. During a recent public lecture, a prominent Chinese military helicopter […]

%d bloggers like this: