The best way to blunt the impact of a critical report is to make changes before the report becomes public. No one knows that better than Prime Minister John Howard. So we have had some concessions on the way illegal immigrants are treated in detention camps. Stand by for the report into the system which resulted in an Australian resident being held in detention.
The PM might not have had the report of former Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer in his hand when he reached agreement with the backbench critics of the detention policy, but he would surely have known the broad thrust of Mr Palmer's findings.
The Immigration Department is sure to get a caning and Mr Howard will continue trying to get the public service to carry the can for the detention abuses. As the impact of the report is played out over coming weeks we should note it down as the formal end of the Westminster principle of ministerial responsibility.