Blogging Senate Estimates (part 2)

Sometimes, even Senators can’t get the information they want. As a former public servant, you have a warped view of parliamentarians. Ministers hold an inordinate amount of power in the short-term over deadlines and policy. Therefore when a public servant says something is not available, while I shouldn’t be, I am surprised.

Both Senator Carr and Senator Boyce enquired to the Refugee Review Tribunal about the ethnicity of asylum seekers in the case of Tamils and Hazaras. However this information is not kept by the Tribunal. Given the how pertinent nature of ethnicity to the notion of seeking asylum, I find this extremely odd. This information would certainly exist amongst the various number of forms and databases.

Moving on, the ALP certainly has a strategy around public service recruitment and sackings. Kim Carr had a series of questions about a directive sent to all public service agencies on October 31st about staffing and non-ongoing contracts. He found out that the Refugee and Migration Tribunals have approved one non-ongoing staff member since that date, an APS2 level officer (which is an entry level admin. officer for those not from Canberra). For approval, these positions must be ‘critical’ to the nature of the organisation and can be approved by the head of each public service organisation. Well done Senator, looks like the Coalition is going to struggle to sack those 12,000 public servants if this type of activity continues. There is a serious story about this issue in today’s Canberra Times, co-authored by the excellent Noel Towell and Hamish Boland-Rudder.

You can get a fascinating quote if you take it out of context. Martin Bowles, the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection with a nice insight to Senator Boyce, “I’m confused as well most of the time”. I wish I was a sub-editor, it writes itself.

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