Jul 1, 2009

Private contractor Serco to run detention centres

Today, UK services company Serco's Australian subsidiary, Serco Australia, begins to phase in its control over seven detention centres.

Sophie Black

Crikey editor

As part of the refugee and asylum seeker policy embedded in the Labor party's 2007 national platform and constitution, the party pledged:

* The length and conditions of detention must be subject to review and detention centres managed by the public sector. Despite this, today UK services company Serco's Australian subsidiary, Serco Australia, begins to phase in its control over seven detention centres. The Villawood, Maribyrnong, Darwin and Perth centres, and three centres on Christmas Island, will be run by Serco. Transition from existing service provider Global Solutions Ltd  (now G4S) will commence in July, and is expected to be completed by November. In 2006 the former government announced it would not extend G4S's $300 million contract when it expired at the end of 2007, and all detention services would be retendered. The Age reported in January that at the time, "Labor criticised the decision and said the contract with G4S should be terminated and the centres returned to government control so there was a clear line of responsibility back to the minister."
"This is the private company that has people coming in the doors with no mental health problems and going out as broken human beings," then Labor immigration spokesman Tony Burke said. "There is one answer and one answer alone, and that is there have been enough breaches of this contract for the government to take action to terminate the privatisation of our detention centres. It was a bad idea from the start. It should not have taken place. It should not be continued."

The $370 million, five-year contract with Serco may be extended for a further four years. According to Dow Jones, Serco will manage and operate seven adult immigration detention centres and provide national and international transport and escort services from Australia.

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Leave a comment

3 thoughts on “Private contractor Serco to run detention centres

  1. Ravi Tomar

    it’s worth checking out

    Private prisons ‘performing worse than state-run jails’ from The Independent (29 June 2009)


    also mentions Serco

  2. billie

    Building and staffing detention facilities on Christmas Island is a complete waste of tax payers money. As it costs $270 per day to incarcerate a prisoner in NSW, I am sure the grateful taxpayer pays much more to incarcerate refugees on Christmas Island. Most of the prisoners have done nothing wrong and are not dangerous.
    As Christmas Island is 2000+ km from the Australian mainland these people can’t go any where. All you need is tight security at the airport. Australians would be protected from boat refugees and charges of violation of human rights which are regularly leveled against private prison operators.

  3. Rena Zurawel

    Why do we always have foreign companies running our (very) strategic facilities ?????????????
    Why do we have to pay foreign nationals for our domestic institutions. Can’t we sign those lucrative contracts with Australian public?
    It would be much cheaper if they were run by the State or Federal government. And, why do we need that many detention centres?. Do we expect more Indonesian fishermen?

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