Mohammedan Welfare Seekers Preferred!
THE fix is in. The Rudd Government has purged the refugee bureaucrats most likely to knock back applications from asylum seekers.
And it’s replaced many with activists more likely to let them in.
The political payoff for the Government? This should help empty the embarrassingly full detention centres a bit faster.
The statistics tell the story.
Last week the Refugee Review Tribunal announced which of its 43 members applying for reappointment would be kept, and which sacked.
An unusually high number – 18 – were shown the door, including a former Labor MP, Noel Pullen.
Furious RRT insiders have checked the case records of these 43 to see how they handled appeals by asylum seekers wanting a review of Immigration Department decisions to turn them down and send them home.
The 25 RRT members who were reappointed last week have, over the past three years, rejected appeals by asylum seekers in 62 per cent of cases.
In contrast, the 18 RRT members who were sacked rejected 78 per cent of appeals. What’s more, the toughest four RRT members were all sacked.
Here are some of the people who will replace them.
There’s Charlie Powles, a Refugee and Immigration Law Centre solicitor, and Anthony Krohn, a Melbourne barrister who has worked for many asylum seekers and the Refugee Advice and Casework Service.
Add to them the director of the Brisbane Catholic Archdiocese’s Centre for Multicultural Pastoral Care; a solicitor for the refugee advocacy group Southern Communities Advocacy Legal Education Service; and a solicitor for Sydney’s Immigration Advice and Rights Centre. Notice a pattern?
Yes, all will decide cases on their merits – but didn’t the sacked RRT members do that, too?
These sackings will now increase the pressure on the remaining RRT members to decide cases not entirely on their merits. Several privately tell me there is now a “culture of fear” in the RRT, where they feel forced to let in more asylum seekers – or else.
At least five RRT members reapplying for their jobs were grilled in their interviews about their high rate of rejection of asylum claims, with one told “we expect to see an improvement”.
Much of the concern centres on one of the members of the RRT reappointment panel, John Gibson.
Gibson, in my opinion, has clear conflict of interest in deciding who should be on the RRT, since he’s not only president of the Refugee Council
of Australia but a lawyer who has worked for asylum seekers appealing RRT decisions.
The RRT refuses to comment on Gibson’s conflict of interest, or on what was said to RRT members reapplying for their jobs.
But actions speak louder than words. As Peter Katsambanis, who was last year dumped from the RRT, put it: “The message these sackings send to the whole refugee industry is clear.
“And they also send a message to the RRT members who remain on the tribunal – allow more dubious claims or risk losing their job.”
No wonder an Afghan asylum seeker in Indonesia interviewed this week by the ABC’s 7.30 Report said he prayed for the Rudd Government.
“They are accepting asylum seekers,” Sekander Ali said.
“God willing they will win the election, because we pray for the Labor Party, for Kevin Rudd.”