Misha Coleman, who is the Executive Officer for the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce submitted the following press release earlier this week. As a patron, I fully support this statement.
Budget bonanza continues for corrupt states to lock up those who seek asylum
Speaking from Treasury after being released from the lock-up, Executive Officer Misha Coleman said that “the boats still haven’t stopped, but money keeps pouring down the sink for offshore detention. With images today of 8000 people sweltering in misery in boats in the Malacca Straits, how long can we continue the politics of deterrence, with a price tag of $811 million/year`”.
She said that “ using the latest figures from the Department of Immigration, which say there are 1707 people locked up in Nauru and Manus Island, this equates to a cost of $475 000 per asylum seeker per year. “ The estimated costs also appear to have blown out last year – this time last year offshore processing was supposed to cost $827 million, but the price tag has come in at $913 million, according to the budget papers.
Ms Coleman pointed out that “two weeks ago, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said he had to shut down aboriginal communities because some were costing up to $85 000/person/year, a figure he hasn’t been able to really explain yet. So my question to Colin Barnet and Tony Abbot tonight is whether they are happy that West Australian taxpayers, like the rest of us, are spending $475 000/person/year locking women and kids, mums and dads up in Nauru and Manus Island? Shouldn’t they be closed down too?”
In an ironic twist, the Budget Papers also states that it will cost the taxpayer $4.3million to gain efficiencies in the DIBP portfolio next financial year.
Ms Coleman said that “Norfolk Island will get $5.4 million to reform itself – although Norfolk Island has repeatedly said it would be an ideal location for humane and cost-effective processing of asylum seekers. Hopefully they can use some of this $5.4 million to bid for the next round of lucrative detention facilities contracts.”
“This government really has a playschool-level understanding of refugee flows – by cutting aid to countries like Vietnam, we only increase the poverty and misery that force people to flee from these. Vietnamese boat people are still coming, despite the illegal response by the Australia Government to send these boats back – as they did a couple of weeks ago to 26 asylum seekers from Vietnam. We still have no idea what happened to those people when they arrived back – we have to assume the worst”
She said that “Cambodia is one of the few countries that has escaped an aid budget cut, while neighbouring Vietnam, Laos and Burma were all hit with 40% budget cuts. I must say that the Cambodia Government are great negotiators though. By agreeing to take up to 10 refugees from Australia and Nauru each year for four years, the aid budget provided nearly $40/million. That’s $1 million/refugee, and that was only the original agreement, we’re now paying even more on top of the original deal”.
She closed by saying that “with all this cash floating around the immigration portfolio, it is highly disappointing that this Minister has again this year refused to fund the Refugee Council of Australia”.
The Press Release can be found here
The Australian Refugee Taskforce website is available here