And it's a shocking one: insofar as one is stuck with the politicians one has, within the party that one must suffer to be in power, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Amanda Vanstone.
No, no, stay with me. If they're accurate, and one assumes they are, the figures in this piece by the Age's Andra Jackson this morning speak for themselves:
"Ms Rau's ordeal prompted a department audit that uncovered more than 200 cases of possible mistaken detention, including the wrongful deportation of Australian citizen Vivian Alvarez Solon. The Palmer inquiry into Ms Rau's treatment found a departmental culture characterised by secrecy and denial, and recommended greater scrutiny and openness.
In the Rau case fallout, besieged Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone promised a departmental overhaul.
Children and families were released. Numbers in detention centres dropped dramatically as the issuing of temporary protection visas expanded. This time last year there were 1445 detainees in Australia; now there are 768.
A controversial special visa category was created for long-term stateless detainees.
The department's information and database systems were reprogrammed to streamline tracking across its divisions. Measures were adopted to check identities with federal and state police missing persons' lists.
A mental health assessment is now conducted as soon as a detain is taken in. A psychologist is on hand at all detention centres."
Yes, there are still problems. Yes, her hand was forced. But you've got to admit it's all a lot better than it was, in a relatively short time and in spite of the escalating tensions about the durn furriners.
Crikey.com.au's Christian Kerr, who used to work for Vanstone, occasionally gives us hair-raising glimpses of what he saw. But I kind of like her anyway. Whatever her failings may be, she is one tough sheila with lots of chutzpah, she doesn't take any nonsense from anybody, she's a survivor, and she's funny, if you like that kind of thing.
But what sticks most in the memory is a radio interview I heard with her one day a few summers ago. She was on holidays and could have fobbed the radio station off, but she didn't. She was relaxed and off the chain, talking about feminism in such a way as to indicate that she knows a hell of a lot about it and that her beliefs and choices in public life, at least as far as women's issues are concerned, have been firmly underpinned by feminist principles.
Best of all, she was talking not in airbrushed soundbites of one syllable, but like the best kind of lucid, user-friendly intellectual. And while not even her worst enemies would ever call Vanstone stupid, the depth and breadth of her intellect and her grasp of what was at stake in feminism was a revelation. Given that the Libs are in power and look as if they're going to stay there forever, I'm quite glad she's one of them.