Blogging Senate #Estimates (Feb 2014) (Part 1)

Typically the most interesting parts of Senate Estimates across the bureaucracy focus on government reform efforts, wasteful spending and poor implementation.

In the immigration portfolio, we get all three.

The events of the past three months in particular will draw much attention. Unfortunately we are likely to hear the words “Operational matters will not be discussed” on more than one occasion. The fact public money being used to fund Operational Sovereign Borders is exempt from parliamentary oversight on a ‘public interest’ criteria continues to be one of the most disturbing recent changes in parliamentary convention.

The line of enquiry from ALP and Greens senators concerning the death of a young Iranian man a fortnight ago will expose how tragedy can occur on our watch. The release of the inquiry into the Nauru riots will provide Liberal senators an opportunity to delve into the actions, mistakes and management of the previous government. This will take much of the day, and the political tit for tat is likely to get heated.

And as I type, Senator Kim Carr and Senator Ian McDonald (Chair) are in a  back and forth about the filibuster! Washington cometh to Canberra. I’m not sure who is playing Ted Cruz but they certainly aren’t as handsome.

Apart from offshore asylum policy, a range of other measures will be discussed. Senator Cash announced a review into the 457 visa program, Senator Carr has a thing for student visas and 30,000 asylum seekers remain in the community unable to apply for permanent protection visas because the government will not grant them.

While this is a bit dated now, occurring before the Manus Island violence, I had a couple of posts three weeks ago on what I see as the major topics for this hearing (Part A and Part B).

I’ll be updating throughout the day. Please leave comments if you feel so inclined, anonymously if required. I’ve heard on the grapevine some in the department are quite smitten by their new Assistant Minister, Senator Michaelia Cash, a rapid turnaround from when she was the one asking the questions less than 12 months ago. Let me know if you think differently.


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