As an erstwhile member of the PM's task force on 'illegal' migration, I am acutely aware of the role of DIMIA and AFP executives in the development and prosecution of border control strategies. Covert operations to stymie people-smuggling have been core business for these agencies under Howard. Senior bureaucrats from these and other agencies progressed their careers effectively by serving up the policy paradigm, legal underpinnings, operational framework (with resources) and spin doctoring to keep the show on the road. Of course it was all (and no doubt continues to be ) justified under the banner of 'national security' and 'realpolitik', but my minimal role in the exercise still gives me the horrors.
Tony Kevin is a reliable commentator on such matters. In an article on the Eureka Street website, he writes that "Worrying questions are re-emerging over Australia's people-smuggling disruption program in Indonesia...How long before another mysterious life-threatening refugee boat incident happens in Australia's northern maritime approaches? Is this what the new ethical Rudd Labor Government wants to see happen on its watch? I don't think so.
Time, surely, for the full-powers judicial inquiry into people-smuggling disruption, that Faulkner and the opposition-controlled Senate advocated in 2002 and 2003. Kevin Rudd has the power to set up this enquiry tomorrow. He should seriously consider doing so."
Amen! I believe such an enquiry is essential and should also include an investigation of the inner workings of the Pacific Solution.