tip off

16 months in Baxter detention centre: that’ll cost you $160,000

Kasian Wililo is a NSW resident with a wife, two young children and a full time job. He’s also a former detainee of Baxter Detention Centre. In May this year Mr Wililo’s wife Emily opened a letter from the Immigration Department. It was a bill for $161,684.60.

The letter stated that the sum was the total expense incurred by Mr Wililo’s stay in Baxter — with an order for the sum to be paid in 30 days (read here and here):

Mr Wililo is not alone. As of the 30 June 2008, there were 386 persons with active detention debts amounting to $7,705,576, according to Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) spokesperson Sandi Logan.

Any former detainee not granted a Permanent Protection Visa or Humanitarian Visa is billed for their time in detention, and any costs associated with their subsequent deportation.

According to Logan, “… the department has a standardised cost charged per day for detention across all mainland facilities. $125.40 a day is now the standardised rate charged across all mainland centres. The daily maintenance amount is never more than the actual cost of detention incurred by the Commonwealth.”

The overall detention costs include the cost of moving the detainee between different detention locations and the daily maintenance cost of detention, made up of expenses such as food and accommodation.

After fleeing Tanzania, Kasian Wililo arrived in Australia as an asylum seeker in 2002. He was held at the Maribyrnong detention centre in Melbourne from Jan 2003 and then Baxter (Port Augusta) detention centre from March 2004 to June 2005.

Mr Wililo was refused a permanent protection visa, but at the Immigration Minister’s intervention was granted an onshore temporary spouse visa last September, after marrying Emily Ackland. Kasian met Emily while she was volunteering at Maryibynong detention centre, and they were eventually married inside Baxter Detention Centre.

Mr Wililo is still waiting on approval for a permanent spousal visa. His May invoice stated that his outstanding debt would mean the criteria to be met in order to obtain a permanent visa would be “affected adversely.”

Crikey understands that there are a handful of couples in Kasian and Emily’s situation — former detainees who have married Australian citizens and been granted temporary spousal visas only to be subsequently billed for their detention stay, with permanent visa approval subject to payment.

In April the Commonwealth Ombudsman Professor John McMillan questioned the value of making asylum seekers pay for their time in detention.

This outstanding debt impacts on Kasian’s future opportunity to become an Australian citizen, as well as re-entry into this country should we leave for any reason, like to go to Africa to visit his father suffering from AIDS,” Emily Wililo told Crikey. “We also have two young children to care for and cannot afford to begin to repay the debt.”

This is outrageous on many levels, but most of all because of the traumatic nature of his detention; to be billed for this has been devastating, confusing, and infuriating,” says Mrs Wililo.

DIAC spokesperson Sandi Logan told Crikey: “The power to waive debts to the Commonwealth rests with the Minister for Finance and Deregulation and his delegate (in the Department of Finance and Deregulation). Each case is unique and decided on its individual merits …”

The department is mindful of the amount of the debt and has offered the option of a repayment plan, so the individual can service his debt,” says Logan.

Mrs Wililo confirmed to Crikey that the couple had been offered a payment plan —  ”$4000 up front and enter into a payment plan of the debt plus interest.”

Logan also told Crikey that approximately 95% of detention debts are eventually written off.

The power to waive a debt to the Commonwealth is … vested in the Minister for Finance and Deregulation (Finance) and his delegates,” says Logan.

The department is able to assist Mr Wililo to prepare a submission for consideration by a delegate within Finance. However it should be noted that an application for waiver of a debt will only be successful where it is found that there is a moral obligation on the Commonwealth to waive the debt,” says Logan.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans told Crikey this morning:

I am aware of the difficult circumstances and inequities that the detention debt policy sometimes produces. I have acknowledged publicly that the detention debt system is in need of overhaul and have sought comprehensive advice on this complex issue from the Department.

It has been long-standing departmental policy that persons released from immigration detention after the grant of a Protection or Humanitarian visa are not pursued for their immigration debt on public interest grounds. But we recognise that an inequity may sometimes occur when a person receives a visa other than a Protection or Humanitarian visa, despite having made protection or humanitarian claims, and therefore are still pursued for their detention debt. This is an area that the Department has been asked to explore.

Any changes to the detention debt framework will be part of the Government’s broad strategic overhaul of immigration detention policy.

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  • 1
    Antique
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Criminals who are put in detention are not charged. They may get free education.
    People who are not criminals are put in detention, and then charged for the privilege ! Surely it would be fairer to compensate them.
    It’s enough to make you weep. Maybe there should be a campaign to pay this ridiculous bill for this young family. If grassroots Australia backed this it might shame the Government for this appalling policy. As a pensioner I’d cheerfully pledge a $100

  • 2
    Marilyn
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Julian Burnside took a case to the Federal court for a young Pakistani man given a bill for 6 months in Maryibyong and Ruddock successfully argued that it was legal and constitional.

    For the record hundreds of lawyers, barristers and para legals like me have worked for years without pay to right these wrongs and protect people and we have been demonised and brutalised for our efforts.

    Many will not recover from the traumas they have seen, many went bankrupt, some left the law. And all of them say they would do it all over again.

    Repealing these things requires more than a wave of the magic wand.

    And where is Crikey’s commentary about the illegal and brutal treatment of Cornelia Rau? Where are the commentaries from any of the media who swallowed Vanstone’s drivel about that poor girl who didn’t have a clue what was happening and only wanted her teddy as she was strapped down as if she was Hannibal Lector.

    Where is the outrage? Thankfully Sandra Kanck is going to raise it to the Police commissioner and the SA parliament because any mentally ill Australian can be treated the same way.

    And JamesK, there is no difficulty involved in dealing decently with humans who want help. Imagine sending people to jail for having the nerve to enter a hospital for help on the basis that they didn’t have an invitation because that is what the detention system has always been about because the refugee convention and the right to seek asylum is enshrined in our migration act.

  • 3
    Grace
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    This is as bad as Sadaam Hussein executing people, then sending the bill for the bullet to the deceased’s relatives.

    One detainee I remember accrued a debt for about 600 days at the Howard Hilton, approximately 400 of them after he had actually said, “Stuff your visa. Send me back.”

  • 4
    Cathy
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Howard spent more than a decade unravelling the nation’s humanitarian record that’s now up to Rudd to rebuild. So in addition to lodging your protests on fees for detention centre detainees with Chris Evans it’s similarly appropriate to call on the ex Howard Government reprobates whose rednecked policies sparked these obscenities. Phone Sharman Stone the Shadow Immigration and Citizenship spokesman at s.stone.mp@aph.gov.au on 03 5821 5371 and Philip Ruddock on 02 9980 1822. I’m sure the Liberals post Howard are as fed up as we are with the embarrassing repercussions of a horrid little man whose band of followers no doubt depended on the creep and his party for a job.

  • 5
    JamesK
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a big hint Michael de Angelos. If you are going to prosecute a case (and there is such a case to be made) against mandatory detention, do not use the UK as a positive example of the kind of policy that you would like to see in Australia!

    UNHCR statistics show that Australia has experienced fewer asylum claims than other industrialised countries, especially the high asylum countries of Western Europe. Australia received 5860 claims in 2002, 4300 in 2003, and 3100 in 2004. The UK received 103 080 asylum claims in 2002, 60 050 in 2003, and 40 200 in 2004.

    Australia was the only country that has mandated the detention of all unauthorised arrivals throughout the refugee determination process. Other countries have however in recent years expanded their use of detention, as part of tougher border control and asylum regimes. In Australia, according to the departmental annual report, a total of 7492 people spent some time in immigration detention during 2003-04. The UK Home Office does not publish annual cumulative figures on people held in immigration detention. A recent Amnesty International report on the detention of asylum seekers in the UK estimated the number of people detained in immigration detention in the UK in 2003 to be 27 000, and in 2004 to be over 25 000.

  • 6
    Nicholas Poynder Barrister
    Posted Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Sandy Logan’s comment, “an application for waiver of a debt will only be successful where it is found that there is a moral obligation on the Commonwealth to waive the debt” is absolutely wrong and illustrates the current unnecessary fetter that the Minister for Finance has been putting on his very broad power to waive debts under s 34(1) of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. The power to waive is very broad (in fact basically unlimited) and the Minister would be entitled to take into account the sort of broad compassionate circumstances that have taken place in these asylum cases. Until the Government changes its policy on charging former detainees, the way to deal with these case is: (1) apply to the Minister for Finance to waive the debt under s 34(1)(a) of the FMA Act, setting out the compassionate circumstances in detail (2) when the request is refused because there is no “moral obligation”, lodge an application for review of the decision in the Federal Court under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977, claiming that the Minister erred in interpreting s 34(1) of the FMA Act by fettering his power to waive debts. Hopefully this will lead to some case law which will confirm the Minister’s misapplication of this power.

  • 7
    Kevin Cox
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    The Australian Government should PAY all these detainees wages for the time they were prevented working. Perhaps someone could help them mount a class action to claim for forgone wages?

  • 8
    Karen Churchill
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Damn right there is a moral obligation on the Commonwealth to waive this “debt” and any other such debts allegedly owed by detainees! The whole saga of Australia’s detention centres - from the “children overboard” lie onward - is a fifthy stain on the soul of this country. Demanding payment from detainees for the extremely dubious pleasure of being locked up and mistreated adds insult to injury. Let not this Labor government - which has claimed the moral highground as a key part of its election platform - perpetuate any part of the mean minded and cruel approach taken by the Howard government towards people seeking asylum in our wonderful country.
    On a more pragmatic level - why should anyone pay thoasands of dollars for a service they never asked for?

  • 9
    Lloyd
    Posted Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    This article shocked me. I don’t understand how we can do what has been done (mandatory and seemingly endless detention) and then charge people for it. It is digusting. It was not their privilege to be gaoled. It was our “privilege” to gaol them; so that we could be sure we’d be “safe” and that the person could “integrate” into our society.

    Please let us know what can be done, in an organised fashion, to express our distaste for this policy of charging detainees.

    As a policy note: I always thought that refugees should be sent away to some sort of compulsory training camp (english, Australian culture, medicare, job searching etc) to help them prepare; before being integrated into communities where beginning jobs were offered to them via some sort of central database. They would then receive temporary citizenship, have rights to normal wages and have the opportunity to gain references from co-workers, employers and community members (to help with their citizenship application). If they committed a crime at any stage in 3 years the magistrate would have the authority to deport that person.

    For those who think compulsory English tests for refugees (and immigrants) is wrong prior to receiving citizenship - think again. Providing free English courses to all non-citizens (TAFE) and ensuring they speak English (by offering the citizenship carrot) will help protect them from exploitation. This is, of course, just chutzpah but I had to get it off my chest.

  • 10
    JamesK
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    PM, you are missing the point. Re-read the article.

    Kasian Wililo entered the country as an asylum seeker.

    After due process Mr Wililo was refused a permanent protection visa.

    He would have been advised of the charges in the event his application was refused. It was refused. Normally he would depart the country owing the money and never paying.

    However he then married an Australian citizen and at the (Howard) Immigration Minister’s intervention was granted an onshore temporary spouse visa last September, after marrying Emily Ackland. He is still not a permanent resident.

    The Tax Invoice is dated June 2005.

    Little of these facts are stated by the ‘reporter’ Sophie Black.

    Don’t be “ashamed as an Australian”……but perhaps as a sucker….

  • 11
    kerry
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Chris Evans has an uphill battle trying to repair a broken system administered by a broken department.There even more glaring anomalies of family members with identical asylum claims released on different visas with radically different debt positions. It would be worthy of its own episode of Yes, Minister if it were not so devastating for those involved trying to rebuild lives shattered by both their flight to “safety” and the reception they received in Australia.

  • 12
    Marilyn
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    David M if you are not ashamed then you should be ashamed of your own inhumanity to your fellow men, women and children. And will Crikey and all media stop calling people illegal immigrants, in Australia there is no such creature.

    It is not against the law to be in Australia or enter Australia without a visa, the offences were deleted from the migration act in 1992 when the three ring circus called “mandatory detention” was introduced for prescribed persons.

    In other words suckers all we have forked out about $3 billion to lock up all sorts of people for a non-offence that even if it had been an offence would have attracted a $40-50 fine at the most as the cost of a bridging visa.

    We sent hundreds of Indonesian fishermen to jail for the non-crime of assisting people to enter Australia “illegally” but as it is not illegal then we have locked up another group of entirely innocent people and destroyed their livelihoods at the same time.

    The difference is that they got a trial, a charge of sorts (even though the courts all said “this is clearly NOT a people smuggling operation, the people threw themselves at authorities”) and a very small sentence before being sent home with no bills to pay.

    We have seen what happens to Australian’s in those vile places on 4 Corners last week, what happens to people who are merely distressed by bad news and those illegally locked up in isolation cells the department said did not exist.

    David M, if you are not ashamed mate you deserve a bloody good kicking.

  • 13
    Shane
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Australian public was kept in the darkness. And then, out of this darkness ‘experts’ like David M started mushrooming and get vocal. Many of them claim to be Christians as it is ever necessary to get any religion involved in bestiality. But I would like to think that ‘us and them’ ideology is based on extreme tribalism. Chapelle Corby, (unlike ‘that woman’ Vivien Alvarez) had a kind support of nearly half of the Australian public. The amount of money she would owe to the Indonesian government, once released, should build bridges to all archipelago islands. Providing, of course, the money does not get to Wall St.
    And I still would like to know who got the money for the project, construction and maintenance of the ultra-modern jail architecture decorating our pristine landscape.

  • 14
    JamesK
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    For what it is worth Marilyn….as an ideal I agree with you but …..if ‘twere so easy…..

    Incidentally I would sooner trust Vanstone than most of ‘em and certainly Rudd.
    I think that she is a straight shooter.

    That’s not to say the culture in the Department of Immigration did not need a purge whilst she was in charge.

  • 15
    Chris Graham
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Evans parliamentary number: (02) 6277 7860
    Tanner’s parliamentary number: Tel: (02) 6277 7400

    So shameful.

  • 16
    JamesK
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Well said David M!

    Jonathan Green is probably the patronising d..k who would have penned the lead in.

    I am with you, Hawke, Keating, Beasley and subsequently Howard in supporting this obviously difficult and unpleasant measure as necessary in the circumstances of the early nineties to the early/mid noughties.

    Having said that i am happy to see Chris Evans’ changes: refugees will now be detained only as a “last resort” and “for the shortest practicable time”.

    Very few Australians were comfortable with mandatory detention but the majority supported it.

    There is nothing to be ashamed of except for Jonathan Green and his pseudo-intellectual extreme left wing views but be tolerant……. has no insight.

  • 17
    JamesK
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Just a message to Emily Wililo: I wish you and Kasian the best of luck.

    The power to waive a debt to the Commonwealth is … vested in the Minister for Finance and Deregulation (Finance) and his delegates,” says an obviously helpful civil servant Sandi Logan.

    Be cautious that you and Kasian are not used by people to further their own agenda and not yours.

    It may be counterproductive to yours and Kasian’s interest on two fronts… financial waivers and permanent visa.

    This is a charge (I am guessing) that government does not expect to be paid when the rejected applicant departs the country. You would be highly likely to receive a waiver for the full or large percentage of the full invoice in the event that Kasian is accepted as a permanent resident (which is obviously highly likely).

    Be careful and do not allow yourselves to be played by people with ulterior motives. Government and government departments do not like being seen to be forced into taking actions against what is their stated official policy. They are much more willing to do that quietly if deemed appropriate.

    Get some good INDEPENDENT legal advice……..especially independent of Crikey.

  • 18
    Kevin Charles Herbert
    Posted Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    NOTE TO ALL COMMENTATORS:

    It’s clear that Little Jimmy K thrives on the limelight……any limelight………even that afforded to a witless, right wing, racist bigot such as he.

    The best way to eliminate Tiny Jimmy’s facile commentary, or at least reduce it, is not to mention his name at all, or respond to his silly arguments.

    Hopefully this tactic will rid us all, both left & right wing commentators, of his increasingly tiresome, low rent ramblings.

    PS: I get the impression that Mini Jimmy sees himself as a big-time ’ player’ ……….yes… really!!!!! You know the type……the one who thought that by bombarding political science tutes with his silly views, he would be seen as a stand-out student

  • 19
    Peter Maywald
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Yes Minister - we have our very own St Edmund’s Hospital.
    It is no accident that the Federal Government needs to recover $7 million a year from asylum seekers. That’s the figure it costs to keep open the Christmas Island detention centre. Built at a cost estimated at $398 million, it has NEVER housed a detainee and seems fated to remain empty. But, like St Edmund’s Hospital, it has a superb record of service, with not a single injury, illness or death among its (non-existent) clients. No doubt the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department will list this ridiculous waste of money and the $7m a year price tag for maintenance as financial assistance to the basket case economy of Christmas Island. It makes similar deceptive claims about salaries paid to Canberra bureaucrats as being assistance to Cocos Island and Norfolk Island.

  • 20
    Laura Duggan
    Posted Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Leigh@crikey, I agree! Ha.

    James K I’d rather be guilty of being a ‘bleeding heart’ than just an angry person surfing the internet looking for someone to listen to his opinions. I hope arguing with all these kind, passionate people has fed the beast that is your ego for today.
    That was a bit mean. Sorry.

    Emily and Kasian, I wish you luck. I hope this ludicrous bill can be sorted out and you can begin to heal your wounds and you and your children can enjoy a happy, safe life in Australia. “Antique’s” offer made me tear-up too!

    Like some others on this forum, I have been a bit dissappointed by the Rudd Government’s progress, but I suppose we can’t expect Rudd to undo Howard’s 12 years of abuse (and Labour’s pre-Howard) in 1 year. Ending mandatory detention is a good start on the long road to building our pride and reputation as a fair, ethical and harmonious nation.

    I too agree that the Christian/Catholic church has been a great support for Asylum Seekers as they are with many disadvantaged people in the community, although (as with any large group) there are individual Christains who allow their fear and political opinions to obscure their judgement. Hopefully as progress is made, awareness will increase and Australia can begin to heal.

    The passion of everyone on this forum is very encouraging. I hope you can all send your passion to Canberra and get them inspired too!

  • 21
    bru
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    probably less money then he paid the people smugglers to get here

  • 22
    bill
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    When I first came to Australia 30 years ago, I was asked what I thought of the place. I stopped and thought. The flies were not too good, neither was the summer heat. I got used to both.

    But now? I am actually ASHAMED to call myself an Australian with this sort of insult. If I had the money I’d be out there fighting in the courts for these guys and sueing the government for whatever I could get for them. Bottom feeding scum suckers indeed. Will the faceless decision maker who authorized the invoices ever stand up so we can see him or her? Not likely.

  • 23
    pamela
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Not only are detainees loaded with debt but if deported their names are placed on the MAL (Movement Alert List) alongside criminals and terrorists. This links to international data bases making sure that a person owing the Australian government becomes persona non grata everywhere.

  • 24
    Perry Gretton
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    What’s to stop Senator Evans from waiving the debt while his department gets on with its ‘broad strategic overhaul’?

  • 25
    emily wililo
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    i have just finished reading through all the comments from Sophie Black’s article, and it has been overwhelming to have so many outraged and compassionate aussies standing in solidarity with us .
    thank you sophie for such a balanced and thoroughly researched and accurate account. To the pensioner who offered to pay $100 - your kind gesture made me cry, and to others who offered to call and write letters of advocacy - please do it because we will see this policy changed, if people like you guys keep applying pressure to our politicians. It has been an exhausting 5 1/2 years of battling with this system as my family will attest to - and we all have varying degrees of post traumatic stress that we are slowly healing from. But with support from you guys, we know we are not alone in our sadness, shame, anger and perseverance to see change and restitution happen..
    Just also wanted to point out to James K that sophie correctly reported that i recieved this invoice in May 2008 (that was printed in the cover letter underneath the anon. signature). The date you can see on the invoice is the date they released kasian from baxter.
    i also would ask Shane to rethink his sentiments towards Christians, especially likening us to people like “David M” - its insulting. in fact, for the record, in the 3 years of pretty much living in detention centres visitng kasian-most of the regular friends and outspoken advocates of the asylum seekers were members of various church groups, and for their hard work and many prayers we will be forwever indebted

  • 26
    Marilyn
    Posted Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    It seems James is one of the Bolt/Akerman toadies who infest blogs with bile and now claims I have been banned from many other forums.

    Bolt “banned” me after the truth about the Bakhtiyari family was discovered by Paul McGeough and the senate that they had been telling the truth all along and Bolt got a bit uppity when I sent him the senate data - specifically a letter to Vanstone from the Afghan ambassador stating they were Afghans 3 days before she deported them with a $3 million bill for their illegal detention.

    Akerman banned me when I sent an email he had sent me stating that the Heiner affair was not about child abuse in John Oxley detention centre.

    Yet both these “journalists” kept writing utter lies and nonsense.

  • 27
    Andrew
    Posted Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I wonder if a legally qualified person could comment on whether a person can have an obligation for a debt arising from something done to them by someone else without their consent, explicit or implied, or control. If I send you something you didn’t ask for, you don’t owe me money - although admittedly that would simplify marketing somewhat.

  • 28
    leigh@crikey
    Posted Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    For someone who doesn’t rate what we do very highly JamesK, you seem to spend a lot of time on our site. Love ya work!

  • 29
    Brian
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    F*ck getting advice from the Department. Waive the debt.

  • 30
    Caroline Armstrong
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    so is it up to Lindsay Tanner or Chris Evans to waive the debts? Who do we address letters and phone calls to?

  • 31
    kay
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Well if the world is going to remain beholden to the neoliberal politics of personalising all risks, then lets make sure its equal treatment for everyone and bring in some mutual accountability. How about not just making the Department pay the ‘customer’ every time they get their detention decision wrong, but lets personalise that risk so that each individual Department staff member who was involved in a mistaken decision on detention has to cough up their share of the compensation money. None of this group moral diffusion of responsibility in government organisations where the taxpayer (totally not responsible for those decisions) has to pay (I mean how illogical is that?). It just allows all sorts of inefficiencies and corruptions of government to flourish. No, the only way to ensure professional personal responsibility in the conduct of government duties is to extend the logic of individualising risk to individual Departmental staff members. Don’t know why anyone hasn’t thought of it before. I mean we have performance pay for good performance, don’t we? So why not subtractive pay for mistakes and bad performance? If the logic works for detainees, why not for Departmental staff members? Hey we could always bring it in for politicians too - wouldn’t that be good? Instead of having to wait three years to get their performance assessment, they too could have subtractive pay for their performance on individual projects. Oh yeahh, silly me, I forgot, the subtractive logic only works for those not in a position to complain, that sovereign power thing. doh!

  • 32
    Ken L
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    As this whole saga is highly immoral I would say that there is a “moral obligation on the Commonwealth to waive the debt” of most if not all people in this situation.

  • 33
    David M
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Well…asking for this type of $ from these people is clearly silly.
    But I take exception to your lead in
    “There are many Australians who were shamed by the Howard Government’s treatment of refugees, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants”
    I was not one of those Australians. You should know this.

  • 34
    RJG
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    And our Politicians wonder why they have less respect than financial planners and used car salemen. If there ever was an argument for a republic and a bill of rights to protect “we the people” from “Bad Kings” then this is a very good exapmple. We have a democracy where we all pay the bills, but somehow or other we are subservient to the crown. In fact we are not. The crown doesn’t exist in any material way. The crown is now the political machine, driven by big business and a morribund public service that hides it’s advice behind politicians so the real vested interests are totaly obscured from we the people who pay for all this. And Sheridan and Carr on Q&A had the gall to tell us we a well governed. I’d say we are stuffed!

  • 35
    Marilyn
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Yes James and all those asylum seekers flew here. And were not locked up. You really are cretinous.

    We wrote the refugee convention, we don’t get to say “get lost now” whenever we feel like it.

    Saying that England have more and other people want to join our system of detention is a lie. The EU simply are not able to do it because they have a human rights bill.

    As for trusting Amanda, you better have a better look at her record.

  • 36
    pamela
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    A true story. Last week a woman was deported after 32 days in detention. She was detained and told by Immigration to buy a ticket to go home. She did this on Day 2 from the detention centre. Day 3 Immigration told her that she was not allowed to do this but must wait until they bought her ticket and arranged her flight. Day 4 she cancelled her ticket losing $1000 in the process. Day 5 Immigration told her that she could not take her luggage with her. She became angry but did not threaten staff or herself. She was then told that she would need to be escorted by 2 guards on the flight. It was another 27 days before Immigration had organised the flight. She now has a debt of possibly $20,000 after accommodation and return fares for the escorts and her own flight. Just another day in Australia’s detention system. She was a nurse and midwife who came to Australia to learn English so that she could get work and send money home to feed and educate her 5 children back home.

  • 37
    Daniel
    Posted Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 4:16 am | Permalink

    If most people leave the country without paying, what is the point of sending out demands for such ridiculous amounts of money, especially to those who are most likely completely unable to pay up? Is it some ham-fisted attempt at bankrupting people so they are unable to push for compensation? Is it some kind of disincentive for people who wish to stay here but are not granted the correct visa (yet find legal methods of staying in the country?)

    $160,000 is just ridiculous. The GST charge is like the punchline of some horrible, surreal joke.

  • 38
    kerry
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    While I deplore the Immigration Ministers cop out by way of yet another bloody investigation his final comment…” Any changes to the detention debt framework will be part of the Government’s broad strategic overhaul of immigration detention policy “, is yet more jibber jabber which would do Sir Humphrey proud. This labor Minister is quickly falling into the do nothing catagory. He mouths a lot but his actions are few. Might I suggest he get off his posturing backside and do something for these people NOW. He has the power but obviously not the will. Another of the useless baggage appearing in the Govt Ministries. The country may have to give this Minister and a few of his colleagues a wake up call. In 9 months they are doing far too many policy swerves and instigating these damnable reports. Wonder if any of them have heard of taking responsibility and actually having the backbone to make a few decisions without creeping up to the PM and doing a please sir. I am joining a growing number wondering if my vote for Labor was a good decision apart from it got rid of the rodent Howard and his lot.

  • 39
    PM
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I’m missing the point here, but are we now accepting legitimate refugees, regardless of if they are initially detained or not, and then sending them a bill for the privilege? I could understand trying to chase an illegitimate alien for costs but not this guy.

    If so I am ashamed as an Australian and we deserve what’s coming to us! With our alignment to American greed and capitalism during the last 10 years or so, we might all be refugees in a minute!

  • 40
    Kevin Charles Herbert
    Posted Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    NOTE TO ALL COMMENTATORS:

    It’s clear that Little Jimmy K thrives on the limelight……any limelight………even that afforded to a witless, right wing, racist bigot such as he.

    The best way to eliminate Tiny Jimmy’s facile commentary, or at least reduce it, is not to mention his name at all, or respond to his silly arguments.

    Hopefully this tactic will rid us all, both left & right wing commentators, of his increasingly tiresome, low rent ramblings.

    PS: I get the impression that Mini Jimmy sees himself as a big-time ’ player’ ……….yes… really!!!!! You know the type……the one who thought that by bombarding political science tutes with his silly views, he would be seen as a stand-out student

  • 41
    Marilyn
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Well JamesK, you wear your badge along with Philip Ruddock and the other lying cretins.

    It makes not a jot of difference if the man was not found to be a refugee, the debate is about having to pay for detention for not committing any crime.

    Mass murderers are not billed for their jail time but completely innocent people get to pay to be tormented and locked up without charge or trial.

    And bru, what people smuggler? There have not been refugees smuggled into Australia nor anyone but women trafficked for sexual slavery.

    Which part of “it is legal to be in Australia without a visa” don’t you get?

    James, there is a misfire in your brain. Over 440,000 people migrated here last year, about 5 million came as tourists and about 60,000 stayed over their time.

    We do not have to lock up innocent people and then send them massive bills, there is no offence in our law called not having a visa.

    So if you want to be proud to be a cretin, be my guest.

  • 42
    Michael de Angelos
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    kay is korrect !. Mutual Responsibilty should be the mantra, and indeed was the mantra under Howard, Costello and “jobs snobs” Tony Abbott et all !. But given the manner in which these darlings of Conservatism no doubt applaud the $800 billion bail-out in the USA, the responsibilty is of course, never “mutual”.

    David M & JamesK-why is this an “obviously difficult and unpleasant measure as necessary in the circumstances” when the UK with a far greater influx of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, chooses to allow them to live in the community, take jobs and access benefits and thus save a few billion pounds on detention centres as well as turning them into lawful taxpayers ?.

    As for the real illegals-are visa overstayers , mainly backpackers ( the largest group of “illegals) subject to these bills as well or just given a telling off ?. Is it because they happen to be largely middle class and white Europeans ?.

  • 43
    Sharyn
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    $7,705,576. That’s about 1/2 the price of an Olympic medal. I would be happy to trade the chance of Olympic glory for a bit of humanity.

  • 44
    Zachary
    Posted Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    JamesK not many persons make me feel like vomiting but reading your uppity, I know all, your are mere cretins down there attitude, do. Such a pompous attitude, talking down to people are traits you share with most persons with their heads up their rectums. What you write is the result of that visitation by your head.

  • 45
    JamesK
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Being labelled “cretinous” by the infamous loon Marilyn Shepherd is surely a badge of honour

  • 46
    robert
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    The first time I came across this sort of bureaucratic brutality was, as a youngster, watching Terry Gilliam’s fantastical, dystopian movie, “Brazil”. But it was just a movie.

    Then I read of families being charged for the bullets used in the execution of their loved ones in various tin-pot dictatorships. But that was “over there”.

    Now I read this. “WTF” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

  • 47
    JamesK
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Marilyn you a tiresome horror banned from many news boards for obvious reasons.

    I note that you now state the debate is “about having to pay for detention for not committing any crime” whilst your initial long horror smearing diatribe does not mention that as an issue at all.

    Any former detainee not granted a Permanent Protection Visa or Humanitarian Visa is billed for their time in detention, and any costs associated with their subsequent deportation. If Mr Wililo who came here in 2002 did not like those terms he could have left. If Crikey wants to make that an issue then do so. The story of Mr. Wililo is not only unhelpful to that debate it is largely irrelevant if indeed that really were the debate which of course it is not.

    How many detainees have paid? How much has been billed? What is the reasoning behind this policy?
    Again if that were the debate then presumably that would be of interest to a ‘reporter’ but not to Crikey and not to nutters like you Marilyn.

    Spare me your bleeding heart bullsh-t…there is not an once of the milk of human kindness in you. You hypocritical crass ignorant shrill shrew

  • 48
    JamesK
    Posted Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Simply respond with logic and good argument to a wall of self righteous pontificating arrogance demonstrated above and out oozes the pus of poisonous detritus that is their true substance……kevboy and Zach showing us what thy are really made of….

  • 49
    Noel Allenby
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    What a bunch of low life, bottom feeding scum suckers. After all they put these people through they slap an unpayable bill on them to try and make them buckle.

    I live in a rural town with a major employer that can only get foreign workers to work and had the government put some thought into the process they could have had these people gainfully employed, paying taxes and saved a shit load of our money on the detention centres.

    I thought we had a change of government to one with a heart, not one that wants to carry on the process of the last mob of ripping out peoples hearts.

  • 50
    Kevin Charles Herbert
    Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    DavidM:

    Please educate us…why were you not one of the many Australians who were shamed by the Howard Government’s treatment of refugees, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants?

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