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Minister knew but failed to act on detention

Vanstone must resign, even under her own definition of ministerial responsibility

Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said today that even under Minister Vanstone's emaciated definition of ministerial responsibility, she should resign over the detention of Cornelia Rau as her office was informed and neglected to act.

"Even if we accept the emaciated definition of ministerial responsibility - that a Minister is only responsible for issues that she is aware of - then Vanstone should resign over the detention and treatment of Cornelia Rau," said Senator Nettle.

"In answer to a Senate Estimates questions, the Minister admitted that her office was directly informed multiple times about Cornelia Rau's situation.

"There are at least 32 items of correspondence expressing concern about Cornelia Rau prior to her identity being discovered and the Minister's office was contacted directly as early as 9 December 2004.

"The Minister might try to weasel out of accepting the blame for Vivan Alvarez's deportation, but she can not plead ignorance over the treatment of Cornelia Rau. Even under her whittled down definition of ministerial responsibility she must resign.

"The Australian Greens believe that the institution of ministerial responsibility is a vital part of our democratic system and the failure of Minister Vanstone and Ruddock to accept responsibility for their department's failures and the failure of the Prime Minister to be hold them accountable is very damaging.

"The long recognised definition of ministerial responsibility under the Westminster System is that a cabinet minister bears the ultimate responsibility for the actions of their department. It is essential to guarantee that an elected official is answerable for government decisions.

"The failure of Minister Vanstone and former Minister Ruddock to accept responsibility over the catastrophic failure of the Department under their watch is unacceptable."

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