03 January 2014

Mick Palmer on asylum seekers

Below is the biographical note and abstract from former Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer’s contribution to the Australia21 publication Refugees and asylum seekers: finding a better way.

The full essay can be obtained by accessing the complete publication which can be downloaded as a PDF file at no charge from the Australia21 website here.

If you would like to buy a hard copy for $25 including postage you may do so from here.

Asylum seekers: Does our approach reflect our character? The lessons that must be learnt.
Mick Palmer

Mick Palmer AO APM is a former career police officer and barrister at law, who served as Commissioner of Police with the Northern Territory Police and the Australian Federal Police. Since his retirement from policing in 2001 he has conducted a range of corporate governance related inquiries including inquiries into prison management in Victoria and Tasmania and the inquiry into the Immigration Detention of Cornelia Rau. He is a Director of Australia21.


This essay examines treatment of asylum seekers in Australia against the background of tow notorious cases, Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez, and seeks to illustrate the critical importance of due process, competence and integrity to a just and effective asylum-seeker management and handling system. The emotional and psychological impacts that are likely to be caused by immigration detention and the damage that can be caused by inadequate inquiry are illustrated and the questions asked: have the lessons of Rau and Alvarez been learned and are current practices and procedures likely to lead to just and humane outcomes? Are we comfortable as a society with our current approach? Do our treatment and handling processes reflect expected Australian values? Assessment criteria are suggested which as decent Australians, we should expect to apply in the treatment of people in Australian immigration detention.

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