Parliamentary committees – you’re doing it right

The Joint Standing Committee on Migration released their report Immigration Detention in Australia: A New Beginning today, and I’m glad to see that their recommendations constitute a substantial liberalisation of the current regime. However, as the dissenting report notes, they could have gone much further.

Naturally, the Coalition is irked, but they can go take a running jump at themselves.


  • Detainees should no longer be billed for being incarcerated
  • The maximum stay should be 12 months*, with a judicial review of the reasons for keeping them for longer where it must be shown that they are a risk to the country
  • Health checks should take a maximum 5 days
  • Security checks should be completed in 90 days
  • A bunch of transparency and accountability reforms in visa decisions (to stop miscarriages of justice like the Haneef case, as just one example)

A parliamentary committee inquiry is only as good as its terms of references, so kudos to Labor for doing it properly. Now they’d better follow through!

* The Howard regime once sent its lawyers all the way to the High Court arguing that they could keep people locked up forever, and won. Despicable.

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