One year on, whither immigration?

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Andrew Leigh
Andrew Leigh

ANDREW Leigh says tomorrow marks one year since the Liberal Government announced it was considering ripping the Department of Immigration out of Belconnen.

“After 365 days, multiple community forums and thousands of signatures petitioning the Government to keep the department where it is, we are no closer to getting answers about Immigration’s future,” Andrew said.

“Worse, the entire process has now been jeopardised by the Liberals’ apparent decision to exploit the tender for their own financial gain.

“On 1 September, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Liberal Senator Zed Seselja held a $995 per head dinner at an exclusive Canberra restaurant. More than half of the guests are believed to have been representatives of the companies vying for the department’s accommodation contract.

“Minister Dutton has so far refused to answer questions about what he discussed with the tenderers at this dinner and whether any promises were made about the project. He has also refused to explain how it is appropriate for the Liberal Party to accept donations from those participating in an active government procurement process.

“As if that weren’t bad enough, Malcolm Turnbull’s defenestration of Tony Abbott has added further delays to the process.

“The Department of Finance was supposed to publish new guidelines on office procurement last week, in a move that was hoped to bring more clarity to the Immigration tender. But these guidelines are still nowhere to be seen as the Government instead focuses on its own messy internals.

“This entire process has clearly been mismanaged; in the meantime it is local Belconnen businesses and workers who suffer thanks to the uncertainty the Government has created.

“The Department of Finance has ultimate responsibility for government procurement. It should draw a line under this shambolic process and commit to keeping Immigration in its current location for good.

“We will not stop pressing the Government on this issue until the Northside community gets the answers it deserves.”

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