With the news today that Peter Dutton is to head a merged ASIO, AFP and Border Force super security department, it is worth looking back over the last twelve months to see why he deserved this promotion.
A recent survey of employees working for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has revealed a department-wide decline in morale.
This shift has been attributed to a damming lack of confidence in both Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg, and what has been described as Mike Pezzullo’s “problematic culture of command and control.”
The report also cites an ongoing shift away from focusing on assisting people, towards a primarily enforcement-based approach, as well as a lack of communication from senior management.
The scathing internal survey was independently conducted by the Nous Group, and found that there was intense staff dissatisfaction with the current “military-style regime” of both their department, and those at the top.
A report has been released by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), which severely criticises the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) for its handling of asylum seekers and offshore detention centres.
The DIBP was found to have significantly mishandled multiple areas of the offshore detention system, including welfare, security, catering and cleaning services. The report also identified a Broadspectrum contract with cost overruns of more than $1 billion, which the department entered into without first seeking alternative pricing quotes.
ANAO also found that the department was unable to demonstrate that it had secured adequate value for money in three out of the four hiring processes currently in place at detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.
In a scathing report, the Australian National Audit Office said the Immigration Department had “fallen well short” of expected standards in its management of contracts for detention facilities on Manus Island and Nauru.
Out of $2.3 billion paid over 40 months, $1.1 billion was approved by officers without the appropriate authorisation and another $1.1 billion was paid with “no departmental record” of who had authorised the payments.
Released on Tuesday, the report follows a similarly blistering ANAO audit published in September which identified “serious and persistent deficiencies” in the department’s procurement of garrison support and welfare services for the offshore detention centres.
On Friday the government released a report by the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs, which followed a seven-month inquiry into allegations of abuse on Manus and Nauru sparked by the publication of the Nauru files.
The report is damning on the government, and among other things, found that Australia has a duty of care to asylum seekers and refugees and that the culture of secrecy and lack of accountability and transparency needs to be addressed.
Doubts have been raised as to whether Australia’s customs officials have been lawfully accessing people’s text messages and other kinds of data.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman was scathing of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in a review tabled in parliament on Tuesday.
The report follows inspections of 20 agencies and their use of powers to access metadata and stored communications to ensure they are compliant.
It finds Customs does not have sufficient processes in place to prove that it’s only dealing with lawfully accessed stored communications such as SMS.
There are also insufficient procedures in place to ensure that information is properly received and destroyed.
‘We have no confidence in Customs’ record-keeping practices, and therefore in its ability to account for its use of these powers,’ the report says.
US officials interviewing refugees held in an Australian-run offshore detention centre left the facility abruptly, throwing further doubt over a plan to resettle many of the detainees in America.
US officials halted screening interviews and departed the Pacific island of Nauru on Friday, two weeks short of their scheduled timetable and a day after Washington said the United States had reached its annual refugee intake cap with the new intake year not due to begin until October 1.
A State Department spokeswoman said on Friday that USCIS “has not yet concluded adjudications of any refugees being considered for resettlement out of Australian facilities in Nauru and Manus islands.”
One thing is for sure – you can’t accuse the Liberal Party of being a meritocracy. After examining that stellar record, the only conclusion one can draw is that Malcolm has bought off a contender.