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Dec 14, 2016

Will a Minister Sit Before Senate Committee in 2017?

Aldo Salazar

Despite initial cynical comments, some from those inside the process, that the Committee’s inquiry will amount to naught, the Committee is expected to produce a report on the testimony of those it calls and make recommendations as to how to proceed with cleaning up the Immigration Department. Two things some expected to see within that report are specific cases like those of Won Hong Kim, or the misdeeds of former Minister of State Elvin Penner. But according to the Select Committee Chair Aldo Salazar, the Committee is only interested in specific cases as they contribute to a collective pattern of breakdowns in the Ministry and Department, not in their own merits.

 

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Special Senate Select Committee

“We’re not looking at isolated instances; we’re looking at the process within the Department; we’re looking at what the processes were, and whether or not there were breaches in those processes. So we are not necessarily concerned with isolated instances which can occur from time to time; but we’re concerned with how the processes are set up, whether there were any breaches, what can we do to fix it, what went wrong, if anything. So we are looking at a general view of the entire process.”

 

Aaron Humes

“But you concede that those specific instances added up together result in the kind of processes and things that you are looking at?”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Of course. If you have one issue coming up over and over and over again, then it points to a problem with the process itself. The answer to your question of whether we are going to look at a isolated case – that’s not the point, we are not looking at a specific case; we are looking at where the overall process failed, if at all. That’s really what we’re looking at. We are just about to complete the Visa Section of the Report, then we have the Passport and Nationality Section of the Report left. So, we are about – if you look at the Report, the Reports are not the same in volume, but in terms of the Reports we are about one-third of the way through.”

 

Reporter

“For the next how many hearings do you estimate that the Auditor General will be your witness?”

 

Aldo Salazar

“I am hopeful for one more hearing; but please don’t sue me if that doesn’t turn out to be correct, okay?”

 

Reporter

“Can we expect Ministers to be called in next year?”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Well, if you listen to the terms of reference which I must read at the start of every hearing, you would see that it says that any Minister who was involved – whose name was called in the report, I am paraphrasing here – will be called. But really, that depends on how the Committee itself sees the progression; as to when anybody will be called, it really depends on how the Committee sees the progress; so we can expect anybody to be called.”

 

Those Ministers will likely include current Leader of Government Business in the Senate and Minister of Immigration Godwin Hulse, though a date has to be set. This is the final meeting of the Committee for 2016; hearing dates for 2017 have not been set. The full Senate meets for the final time this year on Thursday.

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