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Nov 23, 2017

What is Everybody Waiting for from Senate Committee?

Nigel Hawke

We leave this week’s hearings with a reminder of just how important they have become in the eyes of some. One year ago this month, the six members of the Special Select Senate Committee convened with a mandate to, among other things, conduct an inquiry into the processes, procedures, regulations and activities of the Immigration Department between August of 2011 and September of 2013. It has questioned many of the top persons, then and now, in charge of the department, many of whom have expressed the view that while there are actionable matters on the table, it might be best to wait for the recommendations of the Committee to move forward. Solicitor General Nigel Hawke said that while he understands the wisdom of that view, there are matters where it is easier not to wait.


Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General

“I get the general sense, and I guess it’s a reasonable position that some of the officers might have taken, is that I get the sense that the persons are waiting for the outcome of the Special Select Committee. Be that as it may, I don’t think it’s an impediment to move that process forward. I would say as a caveat that we need to be very careful how we approach it in each of the situation. Because some of them may be situations, I don’t know, where it’s on the face of it it’s so bad that you have no choice but to revoke, and some of them may be instances where you really have to delve and investigate further. So it requires us putting our heads together – and I include myself, my Department, the office of the C.E.O. for Immigration and the Director of Immigration in dealing with those matters.”


Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“You put your finger on an issue just now which is more general, and that is a number of persons have come and said they are awaiting the outcome of this Committee’s investigation leading to a report. There is no legal obstacle…”


Nigel Hawke



Eamon Courtenay

“There is no reason why the Commissioner of Police or any other functionary in Government should be waiting where there is clear need for action to be taken; is that correct?”


Nigel Hawke

“There’s no legal impediment where on the face of a document it is so evident that something ought to be done that we ought to wait for the conclusion of this Committee; no. There’s no legal impediment. I cannot fathom what they are thinking, but perhaps they would quite prefer to err on the side of caution. But again I wish to reiterate, there may some of the cases that are so palpably bad, there is no reason to wait.”


How much longer, then, for the Special Select? We are told that Hawke and Clare are the last of the first-time witnesses to be called. Two previous witnesses – former Acting Director of Immigration Maria Marin, and Auditor General Dorothy Bradley – are on the Committee’s list, and it appears that that will be the end, except for the writing of the final report to be tabled in the upper chamber. 

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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