Back when I was working in Port Hedland IRPC (immigration reception and processing centre) we had a “secret” visit by a party of pollies come to have a look around.
It had been kept extremely quiet, none of the operational staff or detainees knew it was on until after they arrived, The idea was to minimise the usual incidents and trouble that had occurred on nearly every other similar visit.
The date was 24/4/02, from memory the pollies visited at around 10-11 in the morning.
In addition to Ms Gillard the other pollies I remember were senator Eggleston and Senator McKiernan, there were about 6 or so all up.
I was escorting a plumber in one of the residential blocks when all of a sudden most of the men in the Block began to rush outside, some with banners. I radioed the control room and asked “is anything going on, all the blokes are rushing out of the block?”.
control responded by calling for the gates to the volleyball yard to be locked immediately, which kept the vast majority of the detainees away from the pollies party.
What had happened was the centre managers, DIMIA and the pollies went to the 2 family blocks, hoping for a quiet Q&A session with the people there. One of the families sent a kid off to rouse the rest of the centre to what was going on, fortunately the gates were shut in time.
However by the time I had dropped off my contractor and returned to the compound the visiting party were being chased out of the family blocks they had come to visit with a number of the families pursuing them and throwing abuse.
I was called back to the control room shortly after to attend to a detainee who had been placed in a separation room after threatening self harm. Ms Gillard was in full flight demanding to know what was going on and obviously getting quite offended as the officers ignored her as we tried to restore calm to the riot which had kicked off.
(When she was at Port she had bloody near orange hair)
The pollies left the centre a short time later, and it isnt flattering but my impression of Julia was that she was a striking woman, but with a deep need to be in control, even with things she knew nothing about.
I wonder a little if her “tough on refugees” isnt a little tinged by her being humiliated that day?