It would seem that Howard's little 'Fortress Australis' is starting to show a few cracks
, with several of his backbenchers now openly supporting a private members' bill* to dismantle the current policy of mandatory and indefinite detention of illegal immigrants.
High time, too! The current policy makes a mockery of any claim Australia may have of being a just and humane society.
Apart from issues of common decency, there have been a couple of incidents recently that demonstrate just how badly a policy of intolerance can bite you. At least two Australian citizens
have been caught up in the detention gulags. One, a schizophrenic, another a Filipino lady who was deported four years ago.
The only reason these came to light was through the ongoing investigations of concerned relatives.
Out of sight, out of mind.
FOR THOSE NOW IN THE SYSTEM
Release those with unresolved claims in detention for more than a year. Release parents and children unless they pose a danger to the public or are likely to abscond. Give those on temporary protection visas permanent protection. Offer permanent protection after three years to those whose claims are rejected but cannot be returned.
FOR FUTURE ARRIVALS
Replace mandatory detention with "targeted detention subject to judicial review". Limit initial detention for new arrivals without visas to 90 days. Replace temporary protection with permanent protection for those found to be refugees.