Christian
Kerr writes:

We’re
interested in this Question on Notice on refugees – and Philip Ruddock’s
performance on ABC radio in Canberra yesterday:

QUESTION
TAKEN ON NOTICE

SENATE
FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE REFERENCES COMMITTEE: 6 September 2005

IMMIGRATION
AND MULTICULTURAL AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO

(15) Inquiry into the Chen Yonglin and Vivian
Solon Cases

Senator
Ludwig (FAD&T 54-56) asked:

‘What was
the precise funding model that was in place in 2001 and how was it tied to the
number of compliance activities?’

Answer:

For the
year ending 30 June 2001, DIMIA was funded on the basis of a Purchasing
Agreement. Under these arrangements,
funding was provided to undertake work associated with specific activities
based on a per unit cost for each activity.
In the case of compliance, this included location, detention and
removal.

In
addition to a level of fixed funding, DIMIA was funded for the number of people
located, the detainee days and number of persons removed, the latter being at a
different funding level depending on whether the case was criminal, enforced or
repatriation.

The
Purchasing Agreement has been replaced with a funding model based on estimates
of activity across the board rather than per unit cost. The DIMIA departmental appropriation is
comprised of quarantined and non-quarantined items. The location function, over which DIMIA has
some control, is in the non-quarantined pool of funds. In recognition of the difficulty in
predicting detention numbers, funding for the onshore detention and removals
functions is quarantined. This means
that any unspent funds are returned to the Budget and activity requiring
additional resourcing can be funded. The
current funding model moves away from the itemised unit cost approach and,
instead allows for higher level estimates based on assumptions of activity and
the related funding requirements. For
example, the location function forms part of the “Regulate Entry and
Stay” output, for which funding is linked to the overall level of visa
activity.

HOST:
Finally, speaking of immigration, as former immigration minister, your response
to claims today that Immigration officials got bonus payments for detaining and
deporting illegal immigrants?

RUDDOCK:
Well, I mean that’s wrong. There were no bonus payments to officials. Their performance pay, if you could put it
that way, is a separate issue.

HOST:
Because Tony Burke is saying at the time of the Tampa crisis the Department of
Immigration was funded per detainee.

PHILIP
RUDDOCK: That’s right, and that means the Department was funded on what is
called an activity model, and if it had more detainees that it had to hold it
got more money. Doesn’t seem surprising if you’ve got people that you’ve got to
feed and clothe and look after that you count the numbers, and if you’ve got
more it requires more funds. I think it’s a pretty specious argument.

HOST: So
you reject that this is…

RUDDOCK:
Oh look, absolutely. I mean look, there was a finance model that was put in
place which was activity based, so it looked at the number of detainees, it
looked at some other performance indicators and said look, if you’ve got more
work to do you get more funds. So it wasn’t a global budget…

HOST: But
could it have worked the other way? If you have more detainees?

PHILIP
RUDDOCK: If you had less, you’ve got less money. Well that’s what happened. But
what he is suggesting is that the Department was wanting to find more
detainees. I can tell you, when boats were turning up in large numbers, it had
nothing to do with the Department looking for more people to accommodate, I can
tell you.

Really?
We reckon Ruddock should have been asked this question: “Minister, you’ve been
round for more than 30 years. When did you ever, ever see a bureaucrat say no
to more money?”

Peter Fray

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