‘Public Service’ To Blame For Immigration Failures (Australia)

Last Update: Friday, September 8, 2006. 10:40am (AEST)

'Public service' to blame for immigration failures
Australian Broadcasting Corporation

The head of the Prime Minister's Department says he believes recent high-profile failures on the immigration system were the result of breakdowns in the public service, and not the fault of the Minister involved.

Peter Shergold was speaking to Radio National's Life Matters program about the cases of Cornelia Rau and Vivian Solon.

Dr Shergold has described the cases as the worst thing that has happened in the public service in recent years.

He has blamed the failures on deficiencies within the public service.

“The Minister was not aware that that was the case,” he said.

“Now in that instance it may be tough and I don't like it but I have to say, 'Yes the Australian public service has let the Minister and, more importantly the public, down.”

Dr Shergold says the failures in the public service's work on the cases are widespread.

“It was a failure of public administration, it was a failure of the IT systems, it was a failure in some ways of executive leadership, it was a failure of record keeping,” he said.

Ms Rau, who has a mental illness, was held in immigration detention for 10 months despite being an Australian citizen.

Ms Solon was wrongly deported to the Philippines.

She was found in a hospice outside Manila after ABC TV's Lateline program broadcast details of her case.

Philip Ruddock, who is now Attorney-General, was in charge of the department during the initial failures.

Senator Amanda Vanstone, who is currently the Immigration Minister, was in charge when the cases came to light.