System Message:

Hawke papers reveal immigration problem

Hawke papers reveal immigration problem

Newly released cabinet papers from the Hawke government have shown its immigration problems which could be envied by today's Gillard ministry.

Cabinet documents dating back to 1984-85 revealed that the main problem with the DIAC was applications for permanent residency - such was the demand that rejected applicants had to wait up to a year for an appeal.

The immigration minister at the time, Chris Hurford, described rules in place as safeguards which benefited the applicant as they prevented officials from using their arbitrary exercise of discretion.

He said: "These safeguards have been abused so that administration has now become a nightmare, both in terms of frustration of government and the resources consumed."

An example of this backlog was a man who arrived in Australia with no passport or immigration visa and was refused entry at the airport. He admitted he had applied and failed to obtain a visa three times while overseas - he appealed to the federal court, taking up the judge's time for a week.

It comes as a review into the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has found it is rife with mistrust between workers and mismanagement, while its executives are dangerously financially illiterate.

The Federal Public Services Commission also discovered a culture where the 10,000 strong workforce failed to take responsibility, the report finding few workers actually took ownership of problems.

Ten key areas were analysed, all of which failed to render much praise as warnings of high profile failures were likely.

Such fiascos that were the catalyst for government inquiries were the 2005 illegal detention of two Australian citizens, Cornelia Rau and Vivian Solon.

Martin Bowles, the immigration secretary who took up the post late last year, told the Sydney Morning Herald that all the review's findings would be considered seriously.

He commented: "I am confident [the department] will be a better agency for our staff, for our clients and for the government as a result of this capability review."

The analysis of the DIAC was headed up by Ken Matthews who while making note of the comparatively complex and difficult work, highlighted the fact that workers would focus on crisis management rather than being innovative.

Specifically, the report stipulated that the employees inside the department are averse to risk, claiming "many routine decisions have been routinely escalated because there has been an excessive reliance on the risk-scanning intuition of a small number of senior people".

Such is the fear of failure that workers feel their ideas will not be taken seriously by the higher ups.

And the defining lines of managers' roles are so blurred; no one is really able to take responsibility.

Joomla SEF URLs by Artio