Peter Dutton, the current Minister for Immigration and Border Protection; who took over the position from Scott Morrison, has a history of being unapologetic.
In 2008 whilst he was in opposition, he was the only member of the shadow cabinet to abstain from the parliament's apology to the Stolen Generations. One can only assume that he's not sorry at all.
Presumably he's also not sorry about the use of force against people being held in immigration detention facilities either, if the decidely Orwelllianly named "Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015" is anything to go by.
197BA Maintaining the good order etc. of immigration detention facilities
(1) An authorised officer may use such reasonable force against any person or thing, as the authorised officer reasonably believes is necessary, to:
(a) protect the life, health or safety of any person (including the authorised officer) in an immigration detention facility; or
(b) maintain the good order, peace or security of an immigration detention facility.
This piece of legalise gives an "authorised officer" the use of "such reasonable force against any person or thing, as the authorised officer reasonably believes is necessary" to (and take particular notice of this) "maintain the good order, peace or security of an immigration detention facility".
In 1963, a Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a series of experiments to study the willingness of participants to obey an authority figure, even if by doing so it would conflict with their conscience.
Participants were placed into a room where they were to act as a "teacher" to direct a "learner" (who was an actor) in memorising a series of word pairs. If the learner got a word pair wrong, the teacher was instructed to administer an electric shock to the learner; this would increase in 15 volt increments every time the learner got the word pair wrong. The teachers were also told in advance that the learner had a heart condition.
Under instruction from someone in authority, the teacher would be told to continue, even if the learner exhibited signs of stress, pain, or screamed. They were given four incremental instructions:
1. Please continue.
2. The experiment requires that you continue.
3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
4. You have no other choice, you must go on.
Roughly 65% of all participants, when under the instruction of an authority figure, applied what they thought was a 450 volt shock to the learner; such voltages would kill someone.
Milgram's experiment has subsequently been repeated on several occasions and it usually produced results around about 65%, of people who will continue to obey orders from an authority figure, even if it conflicts with their conscience.
If this experiment can be taken as legitimate, then the implications are that if you place people in positions such as being an "authorised officer", they will obey orders to inflict force upon a "person or thing", even if it conflicts with their conscience. Given human nature though and the fact that the proposed changes to section 197BA suggests that the officer "may use such reasonable force against any person or thing, as the authorised officer reasonably believes is necessary, to" "maintain the good order, peace or security of an immigration detention facility", means that this comes down entirely to the officer's discretion. That discretion, as Milgram's experiment proves, might even include killing someone if the "authorised officer reasonably believes" it "is necessary".
If that's bad enough, there's a nifty little wallpaper section which is being proposed to absolve authorised officers if they choose to apply force:
197BD Secretary may decide not to investigate a complaint
(1) The Secretary may decide not to investigate, or not to investigate further, a complaint made under section 197BB, if the Secretary is satisfied that:
(a) the complainant has previously made the same, or a substantially similar, complaint to the Secretary and the Secretary:
(i) has dealt, or is dealing, adequately, with the complaint; or
(ii) has not yet had an adequate opportunity to deal with the complaint; or
(b) the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, misconceived, lacking in substance or is not made in good faith; or
(c) the complainant does not have sufficient interest in the subject matter of the complaint; or
(d) the investigation, or any further investigation, is not justified in all the circumstances.
If force has been used against an someone being held in immigration detention, it is the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection who would be given the opportunity "not to investigate" "a complaint made under section 197BB" if the "the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, misconceived, lacking in substance or is not made in good faith".
This comes down entirely to a matter of opinion and because it would never be investigated, it also would not be subject to the rigours of testing within the courts either. Think about the implications of this - if a person being held at an immigration detention centre were to be bashed, shot or otherwise injured, or if they were protesting their internment, under the act, the Secretary can choose not to investigate the case and pass it off as frivolous or misconceived. Further to that, the Migration Act allows someone being held at an immigration detention centre to be sent to a state or Commonwealth prison or remand centre and this has included maximum security prisons in the recent past.
I think that the "Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015" is an evil and horrible piece of legislation that will result in harm. I sincerely hope that the Member for Dickson withdraws the bill or that should it pass the House of Representatives, that the Senate will block it. Upon failing that, I can only hope that the Governor-General refuses assent to the bill. I think that it very much fails the Section 51 requirement of the Constitution to uphold the "peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth".