DIBP

Fifth reply from DIBP

Dear Ms Halbert

Thank you for your correspondence of 31 July 2017 to the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, concerning the closure of the Manus Regional Processing Centre (RPC); and the Australian Government's regional processing and settlement arrangements. Your correspondence has been referred to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection as the matters raised fall within his portfolio responsibilities. The Minister appreciates the time you have taken to bring these matters to his attention and has asked that I reply on his behalf.

Papua New Guinea (PNG), with Australia's support, will close the Manus RPC by 31 October 2017. After this date, Australia will not have an ongoing role in regional processing arrangements in PNG.

RPC residents are aware that the RPC will close by 31 October 2017 and the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority (ICSA) is providing them with information about their options.

ICSA has been clear with refugee residents that they have other accommodation options available, such as:

  • temporarily relocating to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre or to accommodation in the PNG community;
  • settling permanently in PNG;
  • returning home voluntarily with reintegration assistance; or
  • moving to a third country they have the right to reside in.

Non-refugee residents should return home voluntarily with reintegration assistance or they will be involuntarily removed from PNG by the Government of PNG, without any reintegration assistance.

Closure of the Manus RPC is a significant step towards resolving the regional processing caseload. However, closure of the Manus RPC is not the end of regional processing arrangements. In cooperation with the Government of Nauru, Australia will retain an enduring regional processing capacity in Nauru. Australia will continue to intercept and turn back any people smuggling boats that attempt to reach Australia. Closure of the Manus RPC does not weaken Australia's borders and the Australian Government's border protection policies are here to stay.

The Government remains committed to regional processing and resettlement and stopping the scourge of people smugglers and deaths at sea.

Thank you for bringing your views to the Government's attention.

Yours sincerely

&& (incomprehensible signature)

Director ABF Ministerial Correspondence Section Support Group - Australian Border Force
29 August 2017

DIBP out of control

Dear Prime Minister,

Act to restrain the Immigration Minister and his out-of-control department. The dangers of DIBP are again apparent, this time with the illegal detention of two people on Christmas Island, despite the fact that they are both Australian Citizens. DIBP imprisoned them under section 501 of the Immigration Act which gives the Minister the power to detain or deport non-citizens who fail the 'character test'. It is outrageous that such unrestricted power can be given to one person. As Fatima Measham writes:

It should disturb us that the immigration ministry has become the locus for responses to crime and national security, via so-called ‘character tests’ or ministerial determinations over whether someone has ‘integrated’. It is not its primary remit to enforce law and order; these are a matter for police and courts.
The immense power vested in the department also magnifies error and mischief. The pattern of recent years has in fact been about eroding impediments and remedies.
...
A draconian mindset can be contagious, and when it emanates from the top, it can permeate thoroughly. If citizenship is no insulation from vagaries of the state, then no one is safe.
— Fatima Measham, https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=52653#.WV8ufdOGOwA

Bring the refugees here now.

Dear Prime Minister,

Immigration threatened the refugees in Charlie tent, saying if you don’t leave we will cut the power on Friday. These refugees are about 10 people. They have only been in Charlie tent for about 3 weeks after leaving Foxtrot when told that it would close.
If they cut the power in Charlie, the refugees don’t have any place to go and will become homeless. Two weeks ago some other refugees left Foxtrot and went to the rooms which were part of the old medical clinic, but they could not stay there because immigration cut the power and they were homeless for a few days.
Australian immigration is trying to close Foxtrot but without providing any place for the refugees who leave Foxtrot to go. When the refugees ask them to find a place for them they say you must go to East Lorengau camp. East Lorengau is close to the local community and means the refugees would be forced to live in PNG.
— Behrouz Boochani

End offshore detention #309

Dear Prime Minister,

While the men on Manus Island are subjected to disruption and torture that is deliberately worsened every day the men, women and children detained on Nauru also continue to suffer. Documents and internal emails obtained from DIBP under freedom of information laws show that Australia Border Force lied to parliament to hide that major incidents of violence, sexual assault and self harm were ignored and misclassified as 'information'.

The DIBP insists that it "rejects any assertion that it attempted to mislead or hide pertinent information from the Senate inquiry" (which was in response to the leaked Nauru files last year). Prime Minister, here is yet more evidence of DIBP acting illegally and lying. Sack Minister Dutton, close the camps and bring them here.

The 4th reply from DIBP

This is the fourth letter I have received from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. I have not yet received any reply from the Prime Minister.

This is the text of the letter:

Dear Ms Halbert

Thank you for your correspondence of 10, 11 and 12 April 2017 to the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, concerning the detainee known as ‘Saeed’, as well as the Australian Government’s regional processing and settlement arrangements in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Your correspondence has been referred to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection as the matters raised fall within his portfolio responsibilities. The Minister appreciates the time you have taken to bring these matters to his attention and has asked that I reply on his behalf.

In order to protect privacy, under the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988, it would be inappropriate for me to provide detailed information about the particular circumstances of ‘Saeed’.

While I cannot provide specific details about his case, I can confirm that this individual is receiving appropriate care for his needs, and his immigration detention placement is appropriate to his circumstances.

The  Migration Act 1958 requires applicants to establish a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion in all areas of their home country. People who are found to be refugees must also satisfy health, character and security checks before they can be granted a visa.

People who are found not to be refugees in Australia have been appropriately assessed to determine whether they engage Australia’s protection obligations. Where an asylum seeker is found not to engage Australia’s protection obligations and has exhausted all administrative and judicial avenues for appeal, they have no lawful basis for remaining in Australia and are therefore expected to depart. Those who do not depart voluntarily will be subject to removal from Australia. Removals occur only after all processing has been completed and do not occur where this would place Australia in breach of its international obligations relating to the return of non-citizens.

People transferred and accommodated at the Manus Regional Processing Centre (RPC) are treated with respect and dignity and in accord with human rights standards. The Australian Government has contracted appropriately trained and experienced service providers to ensure that residents’ needs are adequately met, including the provision of health and welfare services.

Good quality, nutritious, culturally appropriate food is provided and served three times daily. Beverages and snacks are available at all times. Special meals are prepared for religious festivals and cultural or medical reasons.

Residents at the Manus RPC are supplied with ample clothing for daily needs. Where new or extra clothing is needed, the service provider will purchase and supply these items without charge. Toiletries are supplied as required.

The Government of PNG is responsible for processing the protection claims of people transferred to the Manus RPC. People found to be refugees can settle in PNG and may also be considered for resettlement in the United States.

People found not to be refugees are encouraged to return to their country of origin or to a third country where they have a right to reside. Substantial assistance is available to help people return home voluntarily and re-establish their lives. Non-refugees who do not depart voluntarily are liable to removal by the PNG Government. The Australian Government will support PNG in these arrangements.

The Government of PNG, with Australia’s support, is working towards the closure of the Manus RPC by 31 October 2017. After this date, Australia will cease to have an ongoing role in regional processing arrangements in PNG.

The scheduled closure of the Manus RPC does not change the Australian Government’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of Australia’s borders and combatting maritime people smuggling. The regional processing and settlement arrangements in Nauru will continue and Australia will retain an enduring regional processing capacity in that country. Neither refugees nor non-refugees will be settled in Australia.

The Government remains to regional processing and resettlement and stopping the scourge of people smugglers and deaths at sea.

Thank you for bringing your views to the Government’s attention.

Yours sincerely
— Director ABF Ministerial Correspondence Section Support Group - Australia Border Force 22 May 2017

End offshore detention #243

Dear Prime Minister,

It now appears that DIBP has suppressed the company name of a detention centre contractor because it is concerned that the contractor's company will be boycotted or protested against. In laid-back, easy-going Australia it is most unusual for businesses to be targeted with boycotts or protests. That DIBP needs to protect its private contractors shows the power of the increasing numbers of Australians who are strongly opposed to the mistreatment of refugees and especially to offshore detention.

You are not listening. Labor is not listening. DIBP is not listening. So we take our action directly to the companies involved and they no longer want the financial or legal risks of being associated with the abusive system of immigration detention. What other solution is there but to close the camps and bring the detainees here?

What do you answer to this, Prime Minister? Close the camps and bring them here.

The third reply from DIBP. No reply yet from Prime Minister Turnbull.

This is the third letter I have received from DIBP. The cursory way in which the case of Mr Faysal Ishak Ahmed is written about is distressing. 

More than half of the content of this letter is identical to parts of the first and second letters I have received. None of the three letters address the questions I have asked the Prime Minister.

This letter, like the previous ones, continues a mixture of 'weasel' words (e.g. 'the Department is not aware of', 'transferees', 'healthcare broadly consistent with Australian public health standards') meaningless generalisations and outright lies. For example, 'Australia assists PNG to provide refugees with settlement support services to assist with integration.' Although PNG has signed the UN Refugee Convention (in 1986) it did so with 7 reservations and has not made changes to its laws to ensure that refugees are treated according to that convention. DIBP knows full well that when it says that refugees are free to settle in PNG it is impossible both for the refugees to do so and be protected by the law, and for the local Papua New Guineans to have the resources and infrastructure to support them to do that. Australia is expecting a small country still in early stages of its own development to do something that we can both afford and have the multicultural history to support.

Another mix of weaselling and lying is in the paragraph about intake of refugees:

Restoration of Australia’s border integrity has enabled the Government to increase the annual refugee intake. As a result the Humanitarian Programme will increase from 13,750 to 18,750 by 2018-19. ... Australia is also welcoming 12,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict zone.

We have only taken 6000 of the Syrian refugees so far, and the word 'welcoming' stretches credulity. Australia took in 15,000 asylum seekers in 2015-16 which in a country of 24,000,000 is only 0.06% of the population. In the same period, Sweden took in 150,000 which is 1.5% of their population. To match that we could take in 360,000 refugees. The DIBP correspondent fails to admit that most refugees are only granted Temporary Protection Visas and are in a jobless, insecure limbo. There are still 25,000 people on Bridging Visas waiting for an outcome of their application process which seems to have stalled.

 

We welcome refugees

Dear Prime Minister,

What is your response to Ai-Lene Chan's article in today's Guardian titled "The Waiting Game of refugee claims: the policy doesn't reflect community values"?

...it is the philanthropic strength of the community that fills the gap that the government has created and offers the safety net to those at their lowest.

There is no doubt that most Australians want their peers to have the opportunity to live safely and thrive. So beyond giving money and empathy, we should be asking our government
– why is there a backlog of 30,000 people’s refugee claims?
Why aren’t these refugee applications processed within 12 months, or even two years?
We should demand the department of immigration and border protection do what they are paid to do: process the applications, make a determination and let people get on with their lives.
— https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/15/the-waiting-game-of-refugee-claims-the-policy-doesnt-reflect-community-values

Like Ai-Lene Chan I also demand DIBP do what they are paid to do. Process the applications. End the suffering.

For the 217th man on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

The two immigration bills (“visa ban bill”, formally the Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016 and Migration Amendment (Visa Revalidation and Other Measures) Bill 2016) currently before Federal parliament are frightening. They give the Immigration Minister even more power to make decisions without government accountability and beyond the review of the courts. He will be able to act for political, personal or corrupt reasons. I am concerned for the suffering that may further be inflicted on immigrants and asylum seekers. I am also afraid that people who wish to use these corruptible flaws in Australia's immigration system for their own purposes will have increased opportunity to do so.