Mr Howard said: "I don't accept there is a crisis. If anybody thinks they can alter our policy by setting fire to detention centres, then they're wrong. That won't alter our policy one iota."
That was when 5 detention centres were torched in 2003 and Villawood was one of them. At that time it was 8 million dollars worth of damage. Again, at the same time, there were problems on Christmas Island. So our current mayhem and lack of capacity to manage it to the satisfaction of any critics is something which is ongoing. We haven't found a way to speed up the process of establishing quickly whether these people are entitled to be refugees or not and then when we reject them it is the same problem - they don't like it and cause millions of dollars worth of damage and we cannot easily send them back to where they came from. Trying to be fair and reasonable in all of this is costing us millions and giving some people some horrendous jobs and other people horrendous lives. So , if anyone can see how to fix it they need to tell us. We cannot just let people in. They do have to wait. They may be rejected. We have people who have come through refugee camps in Yugoslavia, at the time, and Tanzania. We have people who have suffered and waited to enter Australia . We have others still overseas suffering and waiting trying to get through the red tape to enter our country as bona fide refugees and then we have people who are trying to live here as bona fide immigrants who have skills we need and can't seem to get past the Dept of Immigration. The damage cannot be tolerated because we are a small population. If we keep repairing detention centres then that money is not going elsewhere. John Howard put it bluntly at the time but we can't seem to work through this so there is a sensible approach and as fast as we rectify it , it becomes unravelled again and no matter who is in power it has become an intolerable situation. So, what do we do? We become blunt. We cannot accept that amount of damage, that is for sure.