6 February 2005

detaining Vanstone

Inquiry into Rau detention planned
The federal government would hold an inquiry into the immigration detention of a mentally ill Australian woman for 10 months, Prime Minister John Howard said.

Cornelia Rau, a 39-year-old permanent resident who came to Australia when she was 18 months old, was released from South Australia's Baxter immigration centre on Friday.

Refugee advocates say Ms Rau was locked in solitary confinement for up to 20 hours a day for about two months.

Mr Howard said Ms Rau's detention was unsatisfactory.

The Man of Steel apparently thinks Immigration Minister Vanstone the best person to advise him on an inquiry into her own unsatisfactory performance.

Sadly, the one thing the inquiry will not address is what's wrong with the way Vanstone and her advisers run the detention camps. It's not all that hard to find out the facts about an Australian citizen. Immigration did not get it right for month after month. These are the same people who tell us they always get it right when they identify undocumented asylum seekers.

If they can't identify an Australian citizen on the missing persons list, what hope do they have with people with no documentation? It's established fact, beyond any doubt, that Cornelia Rau has a severe and long-standing mental illness. Immigration's doctors could not even find that.

Howard's inquiry is not going to question how immigration can detain an Australian citizen as an unlawful immigrant. That would be questioning Kafka. And the minister has no worries that she won't be detained in office.

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