Illusive Mind

The Unquestionable should be questioned

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Avoiding Responsibility


He rejected the suggestion that former immigration minister Philip Ruddock and Senator Vanstone should take blame. He said there was a "delegated decision-making capacity" to the department.

John Howard: "I think ministers should go when plainly they have been directly responsible . . . I don't think that could ever be said of either Mr Ruddock or Senator Vanstone,"

Ministerial Responsibility is a convention of any and all Westminster systems. The Australian federal government operates under the assumption Australia is one of those Westminster systems. Roughly the idea is that cabinet ministers have a collective responsibility to carry out government policies decided by cabinet and refrain from public disapproval of any such policies. Furthermore cabinet ministers are responsible to the parliament for their actions and the actions of officials in their departments.

So under such a convention the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (Amanda Vanstone) is responsible and accountable to the parliament for the actions of officials in her department. Just as Phillip Ruddock was when he was the minister. To suggest that this responsibility is only relevant when it is direct is to absolve any and all ministers of responsibility and destroy accountability. A minister would only need to resign over grave abuses in their department if they can find the smoking gun with their signature on it. Otherwise they can feel free to hire all the officials they want to take the fall for them.

As dangerous as this suggestion is by the Prime Minister, his false dichotomy is just baffling.

Mr Howard told Nine's Sunday: "We cannot as a nation have it both ways. We expect the Immigration Department to be there to implement a firm and strong policy tied up with the protection of our borders. But, on the other hand, some suggest that we be totally unforgiving if there are errors."

So if we want to have a strong border protection it is fallacious to be at the same time unforgiving of errors. A harsh border policy entails misjudgements like deporting Australian citizens and incarcerating mentally vulnerable citizens.

Perhaps Prime Minister, the ‘people’ weren’t aware of these atrocious entailments of your policy when you sold it to them when the Tampa was in town. Maybe people would rather feel more threatened by the injustices committed by this government than the trickle of asylum seekers on leaky boats.

In any case if having it “both ways” means not wanting errors, or shall we say miscarriages of justice and abuses of power this must mean then that your firm border protection policy is unwanted and unwarranted.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home