Friday, August 18, 2017

Senate Hearings Cancelled

Saturday, July 29, 2017, 19:29
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Thursday, 27 July 2017 This week’s Senate Hearings on Immigration were cancelled by the Senate Select Committee after they could not determine through consensus that the witnesses summoned should testify. These were the audit team members who went into the Immigration Department and pored over their records to find the mass irregularities which the Auditor General Dorothy Bradley detailed in her reports. Those Audit team members, who were scheduled to testify on Wednesday, included Zelda Hill, Jennifer Myvett and Shane Reneau. They showed up as did the entire press but the Senate Select Committee held a pre-hearing meeting to discuss whether or they would hear them or not. The morning meetings are a feature of the Senate Inquiry, where the Committee members discuss the business of the day before actually taking sworn testimony. This discussion lasted longer than normal, and when the Senators emerged, it was decided that the Committee would not oblige the auditors to give testimony. Senator Aldo Salazar, the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee explained that the dilemma facing his fellow senators is whether or not it is appropriate to question the audit team who help the Auditor General to compile her report. Salazar told the press, “We really don't have consensus that we should really interview those persons as opposed to the auditor general herself, who has that constitutional responsibility to answer questions… The analogy has been made similar to say me. I'm an attorney; I give a legal opinion and I stand by that opinion. I sign it but inevitably we cannot do everything on our own. I have staff that helped me with research and then you go around me and question my staff when I'm really the person who's responsible. I'm the professional, I'm the responsible person for that opinion… That is where we have that lack of consensus, so that is why we didn't go ahead today." So, the Committee appears prepared to call the Auditor General to return and give testimony at a later date, so that she may take those questions that they would have wanted to ask her team. The Committee will take a 1 month break until August 30, when they will go in and inspect the Immigration Department for themselves. After that, it appears that the hearings may be coming to a close, despite the fact that not all the sitting Ministers whose names were called in the Auditor General’s report, have come to give testimony. Chairman Salazar, who has publicly indicated that the hearings should have already ended, conceded to the press that he does not have a say in the matter. It is the majority of the Committee who decides, and readers must wait and see if they will push for all those UDP politicians, who were named in the report, to come and respond. It will be interesting to hear Immigration Minister Godwin Hulse try to convince the Senate that it is no longer able to abuse the Immigration Department's systems to commit the wholesale hustling exposed by Audit Reports. Among other topics, he will go before them and talk about what they've done after Elvin Penner and Won Hong Kim, to tighten oversight at the Department.
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