Michelle Grattan writes with some anger of Amanda Vanstone’s pathetic failure to apologise over the detention of schizophrenic woman Cornelia Rau in Baxter Dentention Centre. A confused Ms Rau was discovered by Queensland Police claiming to be a German national, put in a gaol in Brisbane, and later transferred to Baxter where she was held in close confinement for twenty hours a day. For the other four hours, she apparently ate dirt and said repeatedly that she wanted to kill herself:
“They said when she arrived she was clearly psychotic. She was constantly screaming and taking her clothes off, running around naked,” Ms Curr said.
“She was sitting alone, eating dirt, weeping and saying she wanted to die,” she said.
How this sort of thing can be allowed to occur in an Australian detention facility with no action for months is totally beyond me. The situation was only taken in hand after refugees pressed staff to do something, so concerned were they about her welfare. She is now in a psychiatric ward in an Adelaide Hospital. Grattan writes, “Australia’s detention regime is endless in its ability to shock. And the same goes for federal immigration ministers.” The Queensland Police also have a lot to answer for. Grattan goes on to suggest that some of the small l Liberals who’ve previously expressed disquiet over the administration of refugee detention should speak out on this issue and others at Baxter she discusses, echoing a call earlier in the week from Greg Barns. I’ll believe it when I see it. The wet Liberals are a pathetic and spineless bunch who are wholly subservient to government discipline and their own ambition in equal measure. As John Quiggin commented, “if you want to look at what’s happened to the 1980s liberal wing of the Liberal party, you need only look at its remaining representative in Parliament Philip Ruddock.”
At the very least, anyone in the Liberal Party with a modicum of humanity and decency should support Senator Andrew Bartlett’s call for an enquiry. It’s good to have someone in the Senate like Andrew who’s a consistent advocate for the human rights of refugees. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the liberal Liberals to retain their voice. Vanstone’s failure to acknowledge any fault in this matter is absolutely pathetic.
ELSEWHERE: David Tiley at Barista thinks this tragic story is Kafkaesque. Rowen at Sailing Close to the Wind notes that Howard has said Ms Rau’s detention was “unsatisfactory” and Mr Lefty at Anonymous Lefty is also on the case. Swade at Red Interior hopes Ms Rau sues.
FURTHER UPDATE: The Currency Lad puts the case for Vanstone’s resignation.