Well it's there in black and white, in the Herald no less (SMH 4/10/2005), "National ID system in pipeline to prevent repeat of Rau case". Thank god. All this time I feared a national ID system would be put in place to help infringe our civil liberties but now it's being proposed to prevent a repeat of the Rau case. For those of you that either aren't Australian or have been hiding under a rock for months the Rau case involved the deportation of Cornelia Rau from Australia as an illegal immigrant although she was a legal permanent resident. Throughout the affair DIMIA (the Department of Immigration, and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, because of course being here 40 minutes and being here 40,000 years* are pretty much the same thing) acted without a hint of concern for Ms. Rau's welfare. They ignored evidence that she was mentally ill, a fact obvious to everyone but government employees and/or contractors. They made no effort to establish her true identity, merely taking the word of an obviously disturbed woman. Clearly some change is needed to prevent the stress, worry and emotional damage to Ms. Rau and her family (who had no idea where she was and suspected she might be dead in a ditch somewhere). I left this blog entry for a while and in the meantime there are reports that people were held illegally by DIMIA for SEVEN YEARS. Christ even most of the Guantanamo Bay guys will have gotten out by then.
Now if DIMIA was a private organisation they would (in between court appearances for their numerous acts of bastardry) not have acted in the humane and generous way they now propose to act. Because government cares and private businesses do not. No, private businesses are cruel and heartless and would have only pasted the phone and fax number of the police missing persons bureau on the phone and fax and made damn sure that it's employees actually checked that their detainees were illegal immigrants rather than missing persons, lest they get sued off the face of the earth. They would have only done their job in the least costly way possible consistent with getting it done.
But not our DIMIA, no they want to set up a massive and intrusive database system that doubtless be extended over the years in ways that the present ministers swear it will not be used in. All this will of course cost a fortune, which will be spent because, I repeat, the government cares. They have our interests at heart. They are concerned with our welfare. Good on you John Howard for caring enough to violate my privacy and make me feel a little less of a free man, or a man at all, with every action you and your government take.
* Low esimate.