Thursday, September 01, 2011

Locking up asylum seekers costs how much?

Here's John Menadue in The Drum, May 17:

Counting the cost of immigration detention

Next year (2011-12) the Government will spend $709 million in asylum seeker detention and related costs. This is up $147 million on this year (2010-11) and amounts to about $90,000 for every asylum seeker that comes to Australia.

The abolition of mandatory detention of asylum seekers, which means mainly boat people, could save between $150 and $425 million per annum.

In chiding the Chinese about their human rights, Julia Gillard said that ‘we believe (in human rights) … it is us. It’s an Australian value.’ How can she say this when we have 6,819 asylum seekers in detention in Australia who are entitled to our legal protection and hopefully, our compassion?

They have this human right because in 1954 the Menzies Government brought into Australian law the Refugee Convention of 1951 followed by the protocol of 1967...

Australia is quite exceptional with its mandatory detention policy.

Over 80 per cent of those in detention in Australia will be recognised anyway as genuine refugees.

It varies over time, but the Australian Parliamentary Library advises that in most years 70 per cent to 97 per cent of asylum seekers come by air. It was 84 per cent in 2008-09 and 53 per cent in 2009-10. Yet very few of them are detained. In March this year, 6,507 boat arrivals were in detention, but only 56 were unauthorised air arrivals. With so many coming by air, many of whom are Chinese, it is noteworthy that they are living in the community. Somehow we remain fixated on the relatively small number of boat people...

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