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Federal

Aug 17, 2011

Cost of detention? $113,000 per asylum seeker

Over the last decade we've spent over $100,000 detaining each and every boat arrival.

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Australia’s fixation with asylum seekers arriving by boat has cost taxpayers nearly $2.4b since 2000, according to Budget and ANAO documents.

The expenditure includes spending to deter, process and most of all detain asylum seekers who have arrived by boat. Mandatory detention of asylum seekers was first introduced by the Keating Government and continued and expanded under the Howard Government, with a proliferation of offshore detention sites designed to punish asylum seekers and deter others from coming.

The $2.4 billion cost is separate from spending on detention facilities for other detainees such as asylum seekers who arrive by air, or visa overstayers — most years, the latter exceed maritime arrivals by a factor of ten or more.

The cost also does not include hundreds of millions spent on border security measures adopted under the Howard Government, nor the cost of conducting and carrying out the recommendations of the Comrie and Palmer Reports into the treatment of Cornelia Rau and Vivian Solon by the Immigration Department.

The cost of establishing and maintaining facilities on Nauru, where asylum seekers were detained before inevitably being allowed to live in Australia, still remains a mystery. It was kept out of the Budget papers by the Howard Government; in fact, bizarrely, the cost of the Nauru facility is a net negative in the Department of Immigration’s Budget papers since 2000, with over $35m in savings booked from the operation of the facility in 2006 — when it held two Iraqi asylum seekers — and a cost of $10m appearing as a Budget measure the following year, for continuation of the facility. Some of the facility’s original funding came from the AusAID budget.

Non-government sources have since estimated the cost of the Nauru facility at $1b over five years; a far higher figure than that offered by an Immigration spokesman in 2006, who provided a “preliminary estimate” that the facility cost around $1 million a month regardless of whether there were any inmates. The Coalition has consistently refused to provide a costing for its current proposal to reopen Nauru as a holding centre for asylum seekers. A plausible costing for the operation of the Nauru facility pushes the cost of the policy to over $2.5 billion.

Also problematic is the cost of the construction of the upgraded detention facility on Christmas Island, one of the many expensive bungles investigated by the Howard Government that received critical reports by the Auditor-General. The cost of the facility has an uncertain existence in the Immigration Budget papers, appearing only fleetingly from year to year. That’s because the construction of the facility was primarily overseen by the Department of Finance, with funding also going via the then-Department Transport and Regional Services.

The project was originally costed at just under $200m but, according to the ANAO, ended up costing $317m due to poor management by the Department of Finance. Another $200m has been spent in the last two years to further increase accommodation on Christmas Island and provide other detention facilities.

The cost of detaining asylum seekers only — that is, removing costs for deterrence and anti-people smuggling activities — totals just over $2b since 2000. During that period, just over 18,000 people have arrived by boat. That means taxpayers have spent about $113,000 simply to detain each asylum seeker, on average, across the period. Our obsession with detention comes with with a big price tag.

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85 thoughts on “Cost of detention? $113,000 per asylum seeker

  1. Liz45

    @TTH – Ten years ago? Have you been checked for dementia lately, or do you just suffer from convenient amnesia? Howard lied right up until prior to the ’07 election. Now maths isn’t my strongest point, but that’s not quite 4 years! Take a look at yesterdays Sun Herald re Howard/US/Guantanamo Bay and David Hicks? How about WorstChoices prior to the ’04 election? Just a tad over 7 years? When did Brandis call Howard a “lying little rodent”? After 2001/02/04???Again???If you put ‘John Howard Lies’ into Google and check out the at least 34 lies? Many after ’01 you’ll find!

    In case you forgot about the lies re WorstChoices. Unfair dismissal laws would only involve workplaces of 20 or less? After the election and a majority in both Houses, guess what? Yep, you got it, he changed his mind to workplaces of 100 or less! That’s just one major lie re this disgusting Legislation! Oh yes, he wouldn’t give any details prior to it going to Parlt, remember? and then it was voted on during or the day after Melb.cup Day when the media was otherwise engaged, and then Howard still refused to answer questions – read the Legislation was his reply! He also put on the gag and guillotine! How democratic can you get? Remember now dear?

    @VENISE – Applause!!!!!

  2. Venise Alstergren

    TTH: Your total lack of logic is awesome. Julia Gillard told a lie in order to get the support of the Greens-something your beloved Tony Abbott was incapable of doing, despite his total commitment to the art of lying.

    John Howard and all his cabinet lied compulsively, completely and without shame; try looking up the deal Howard did with Brian Harradine to move Tony Rabbo†† to the health ministry in order to get a rabid Catholic in a position to screw the female vote, also to get the Telstra bill through. But then, you are far too busy screaming your little heart out to read anything about anything, aren’t you? Never allow the facts to interfere with your ability to make a clown of yourself, will you?

  3. TheTruthHurts

    [Truthie have you ever used the term “Ju-liar” or blasted Gillard about the carbon tax “lie”? You really can’t yell out GET OVER IT in reference to Howards blatant and intentional lie if you have.]

    Ju-Liar is our current Prime Minister.

    She told a lie only 12 months ago, big difference to telling a lie 10 years ago by a former Prime Minister

  4. Aton

    Truthie have you ever used the term “Ju-liar” or blasted Gillard about the carbon tax “lie”? You really can’t yell out GET OVER IT in reference to Howards blatant and intentional lie if you have.

  5. Liz45

    People fleeing war zones do NOT have documents. If they ask for ‘permission’ they’re killed in some countries like Iran. Iran has portable hanging platforms that they move around the country on ‘request’? They even execute young women whose only crimes were being gang raped! Their ID’s are removed during imprisonment or torture or surveillance by the secret police. Saddam Hussein operated in the same manner – not much has changed since then, in fact it’s worse. Afghanistan doesn’t process those who wish to flee. In fact, if they’re forced back there the Taliban/war lords etc murder them! Do some reading – PLEASE!

    @VENISE – Notice how when challenged on a particular point, those in question just ignore it. I’ve never seen them put forward one legal argument, unlike MARILYN who’s done it on a consistent basis for a very long time.

    The hateful and racist undertones, overtones are just too depressing for words. They don’t mind the thousands who lie in order to fly here (usually from english speaking countries?). They ignore the LAWS made by the Australian Parliament firstly when Howard was still in and agreed to by the Conservatives under a Rudd Govt. Convenient amnesia I call it? And, as DAVID HAND has shown, when all else fails they just lie or make stuff up!

    The weekend SMH has some good articles about those people who were on the TAMPA, and what happened to them.

    @SUZANNE BLAKE – ABBOTT & CO voted for the changes to the Legislation. They were represented on the Committee but only changed their views when they thought it was another wedge to use to out the govt, particularly after ABBOTT knifed Turnbull in the back!

    Being ignorant is no defence for your racist views! I suggest that you go back to school and learn how to spell before taking the high moral ground on others who show compassion and intelligence! Bigotry and hatred is a terminal disease – it kills from within first, taking those of different colours and cultural backgrounds with you. You’ve probably never even spoken to an asylum seeker or heard their stories let alone seen their scars etc – both inside and out!

    The facts are, that we have responsibilities to people seeking asylum regardless of your hatred and bigotry. We should either get on with it or announce that we’re tearing the Legislation up – at least that would be honest!

    But no, we proudly boast about our humanity and sense of justice ad nauseum, and then act in the opposite manner. Shameful!

    I understand that we are going to ‘import’ workers for our needs. What is wrong with teaching asylum seekers English and employing them? Could it be that those employing outside labour could exploit them more if they come here via 457 visas or the equivalent? No! That would be racist wouldn’t it?

    I’ve read where even those who are accepted as needing protection are subjected to awful racism by employers, some ‘neighbours’ etc? We’re a wonderful mob aren’t we?

  6. Venise Alstergren

    SUZANNE BLAKE: “”Nonsence”” Nonsense is how you spell it. I thought you were naïve before, now I realise you are just stupid. “”unless you are suggesting a bribe?””
    You are callow, middle-class and pathetic. Obviously you have been influenced by watching very bad movies and/or TV. I can’t believe a Crikey reader would have had the cretinism to deliver that line, “”””unless you are suggesting a bribe?””. ‘Does your partner still beat you?’ is a winner compared to this doozie.

    Hahahahahahaha

  7. David Hand

    Devious and dangerous eh? I’m flattered. Low life rat? Well that seems a bit hateful to me if you don’t mind me saying so. But hey, you left elites have a different perspective sitting up there alongside Jesus, where everything is so clear to you and it’s a dang problem that the unwashed far below you just can’t accept your enlightened point of view. Being the arbiters of morality in 21st century Australia must be so exhausting.

    The rest of us vote. Both major parties understand this basic truth.

    I believe in a big Australia and I have no problem with 40 million people living here mid century. I don’t mind if they’re from Afghanistan.

    I’d just like them to turn up with travel documents like they did on arrival in Indonesia and like the rest of us did when we came to Australia. This doesn’t seem too hard in my view.

    I’m an immigrant, by the way.

  8. Suzanne Blake

    @ Venise Alstergren

    Nonsence. I cannot buy refugee entry to those countries, unless you are suggesting a bribe?

  9. Venise Alstergren

    SUZANNE BLAKE: A) Your spelling stinks. B) You are making no attempt to stick to the point. C) You don’t know much about money do you? Enough money buys you the right to live wherever you damn well like.

  10. Suzanne Blake

    @ Venise Alstergren

    Could you (or I) get in a boat o plane and head off the the USA or Canada or Japan or China or Saudi or wherever and claim to be a refugee (assuming we are no impoverished or displaced).

    The answer is NO.

  11. Venise Alstergren

    SUZANNE BLAKE: ((Of course!! How clever of you; there’s some law which says people have to be impoverished, as well as displaced?

    It wasn’t until the Oz gold rushes that the entrepreneurial classes finally redressed the imbalance-deeded to us by the English-of the poverty-soaked convict system. This being a moot point in itself)) This is an aside, Suzanne. Therefore is not germane to my hypothesis written today @ 12:58pm)) In other words stick to the point!

  12. Suzanne Blake

    @Venise Alstergren

    You must be naive. The people that arrive by boat, know excatly where they are coming, they paid the smuggler? What percentage do you think are economic versus refugees escaping for their lives.

  13. Venise Alstergren

    DAVID HAND: You appear to play with facts, rather than displaying them. I am quoting the words of the Refugee Council of Oz. REFUGEES are people running from a country, rather than running to another country. Whereas ASYLUM SEEKERS mainly constitute people who are unable to find a country which is adjacent to their own country, and which is a signatory to the refugee convention (you know the relevant convention far better than I do) from which to apply to come to Australia. This being the case, frequently they fly direct.

    Refugees tend to arrive by boat, “forced to flee without notice, taking with them only the clothes on their backs” Quote from the Refugee Council of Oz.

    It could seem that you base your opinions on one unspoken little clause-let me call it an implicit clause-that the people arriving by air have deliberately chosen to come to Australia, whereas the humble boat-person doesn’t much care about the destination, all they want is to escape a foul existence in their own country-or any other country which is temporarily housing them.

    Of course you will claim it is for reasons different than this that you base your hostility towards immigrants-this is really what it’s all about. This sort of thinking puts you on an even lower level than TTH and CML and SUZANNE BLAKE. These three go off half-cocked and can be very funny. You, my friend, have a good but devious mind. You are dangerous.

  14. Captain Planet

    @ Liz45, Friday 5:10 pm

    Really well spoken Liz. The lack of compassion and basic humanity amongst an scarily large amount of Australians regarding this issue is quite confronting.

    I note that we have a new conservative cheer squad member named “Anne Williams”. Let’s see.

    White anglo saxon sounding…. nondescript…. sounds like just about every person decent, god fearing, true blue Australians feel comfortable with… Sounds a bit like…. Suzanne Blake.

    You’re outed, Liberal party Astroturfer.

  15. Liz45

    @DAVID HAND – What a b*****d! You’ve verballed me. You omitted to put in the rest of that post.

    I also said, that if people DID NOT have passports and so could not prove who they were, they were ALSO deemed not to be “genuine”? I said that in either event, they couldn’t win – of course they were never meant to were they? The inference was, that if there was a Immigration Dept or the equivalent where they could go for said documents, then they weren’t being persecuted!

    The fact that it’s a crime in some countries to flee (punishable by death, via Saddam and Iran for instance?) obviously is just one more fact that you are ignorant of, or after pulling this stunt has proved, you just omit relevant facts?

    If you have to make points by blatant lies, then your argument is not worth a pinch of ****!

    I shall never respond to you again, and if anyone catches me doing it, please remind me! What a rat! What a low life you are!

  16. David Hand

    I just think, along with a significant number of other voters that a person who turns up on a boat and asks for asylum is not necessarily a genuine refugee. Indeed, the reason they wallow for so long in detention is so that hapless public servants can attempt to positively identify them.

    The wanton destruction of passports by asylum seekers before they get on the leaky boats is the key reason they spend so long in detention. You said this yourself, Liz 45 a couple of weeks ago and I quote you-

    “@DAVID HAND –
    In the past, if people arrived WITH passports the view of the authorities and some media outlets were, that they weren’t ‘fleeing’ at all. The inference was that they weren’t “genuine”. If they had passports and had time to collect them, well?”

    So you are saying that the act of arriving with a passport disqualifies you are a refugee – something I think is absolutely absurd. The notion that they rushed out of their houses in Aghanistan just before they got killed and didn’t have time to get identity papers or passports, but then succeeded in getting all the way to a fishing village on the south coast of Indonesia is laughable. If asylum seekers front up with the passports most of them were in possession of a few days before, if genuine refugees, they would in my opinion be out of detention and starting a new life in Asutralia in no time at all.

  17. Liz45

    @DAVID HAND – Why don’t you go and read some of the Laws that our Govt is supposed to abide by. Most were made into LAW with the support of the Coalition. Read the article that Crikey put out about the Facts & Myths! The fact is, that we’re bound by the Laws that either our Fed Govt have made or those of an International nature that Australia is a signatory to, including the Declaration on the Rights of the Child which we re-committed to during the latter years of the Howard Govt. – not that you’d know.

    Julian Burnside, QC knows more about these Laws and our obligations than you obviously do – go and read some of his articles instead of just continually and boringly trotting out the same old arguments that have no resemblance to fact!

    If you hateful people spoke about using the Navy and weapons, you’d at least be a bit honest. You just fall short of this hateful stuff.

    If you don’t like it, you should be advocating a change, a big change in our foreign policy where we’re not a party to mass murder camouflaged by lies in order to invade, kill, maim and destroy countries and its citizens. We then take over their resources and administrations and cause awful poverty and destruction. We DO NOT abide by our responsibilities re the Geneva Conventions in relation to invaders and occupiers! For example, Iraq still does not have permanent fresh water, and probably not electricity to rely on either. The children of Iraq are malnourished and suffering from psychological damage – thanks to us, US/Britain etc!

    If you’re so b****y tired and/or bored, don’t put forward your hateful comments in the first instance!

    I can understand Marilyn’s frustration in particular. She puts forward the responsibilities Australia has by its own acceptances; she puts forward the stats that speak the truth; she puts forward excerpts from relevant Legislation; she’s out there being kind, compassionate and helpful to people in awful stress, and then she has to cop s**t. Would you abuse a doctor, nurse, priest or psychiatrist who works with traumatized people? Do you agree with having a special body where people who suffer trauma from wars etc can receive help? Do you even know that such places exist in many capital cities in Australia? Probably not!

    What do you or CML or Suzanne Blake or ????? do to help people in your communities? I don’t mean your paid jobs, I mean on a voluntary level? When was the last time you stood up for a stranger? Where it took some real guts to do it, regardless of the backlash you might receive? Probably never!

    You dish stuff out to people who genuinely act like true christians (I have no time for the others?) who stand up for those marginalised and tormented in our community! Like Marilyn! I hope that your hatred just fires her up to keep on going, not get depressed and lethargic as she’s entitled to feel!

  18. Venise Alstergren

    LIZ45: Hi Liz! Keep up the good work.

    DAVID HAND: I’m far too lazy to hate people but I do get offended by monumental lies. Why don’t you go out to your nearest airport with a clip-board and pen and ask some new arrivals the same questions I posed in the comment you’ve taken offence to? You might end up being surprised.

  19. David Hand

    Well, Venise,
    Most of the hate mongering and fury seems to be coming from you and Marylin.

    “What queue?”
    The usual left wing opinion, based on a legal technicality, of what is an evident fact to everyone else. Yawn.

  20. Liz45

    @VENISE – Hi Venise!

    @SHEPHERDMARILYN – As usual, I support YOU not the hate mongers. Why don’t they get in a lather about the 40-60,000 people who could be here without a visa as we speak – they came by plane! What about protecting our borders at airports? It’s just beyond ridiculous that these people above just keep on trotting out their useless, stupid arguments! I refuse to acknowledge their presence any more!

    In recent days and weeks, lots of people have come out against mandatory detention. The most recent the AMA. There’s been the Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner’s Report; Amnesty, UNHCR, Professor and/or Dr Louise Newman, (the Govts own adviser on matters of psychiatric and psychological damage to and heath of asylum seekers), Human Rights Lawyers etc.

    I’m just not even going to respond directly to the hate mongers as they’re just destroyers of every human decent thought and action that I can think of!

    Why don’t they at least, ever, suggest, that our Govts have caused many of those fleeing their countries because we’ve shot/bombed/imprisoned/tortured their family members and/or friends, or remained silent while others did it – in our names! They sicken me!

    How did they come here? Or their ancestors? I’m not aboriginal. My ancestors arrived by boat! I’m a descendant of ‘boat people’? Fancy that? They were white and spoke English! Now, maybe that’s the difference! I have 16 different nationalities represented in my extended family – a couple came here seeking asylum! They’re all Australian citizens contributing far more than some of the morons above!

    Aboriginal people have been putting up with boat people for over 200 years! Some people respond to our invasion with ignorance too! At least these days the newcomers aren’t doing what the early invaders did – they’re not poisoning us or our food and water, introducing diseases, hanging us or putting us in chains and shackles!

    How many billions have we spent killing people in Iraq & Afghanistan, or conducting joint military activities with Sri Lanka, Burma and Indonesia? We’re helping prop up despots in too many countries, without showing any responsibility for those we drive out of their countries! What messages are we sending young people? HYPOCRISY on a huge scale for a start!

    Keep on with your good work Marilyn! Good for you! At least YOU and Pamela, and David Manne, Julian Burnside and others make up for the haters! I’m proud to say that a friend of mine has been working with and for asylum seekers for many years now. She makes me feel very proud too! You all make up for the haters!

  21. Venise Alstergren

    The thing which stuns me, beyond belief, is how the hate-mongers reserve their fury for the people paying whatever the money charged by the middle man is; ie more than the cheapest air ticket available, on the laughable pretext these people are queue jumpers. What queue?

    Why don’t these seat-hugging, bum-warming Liberal Party hacks get off their backsides, grab an information sheet and pen, and interview all the people arriving to visit families, students, short order cooks, whatever, and see how many of these people have the proper visas, the money for a return air fare to their last country of origin, up-to-date yellow health cards and a discernible ability to support themselves for the length of their proposed visit. But that would entail a bit of hard work-something these desk-bound harpies are demonstrably unable to do.

  22. Suzanne Blake

    @ CML @ YYH

    Well said. @shepherdmarilyn add me to your hate list.

    Will be over run if we open up our borders like what SHY wants to do and her other basket weaving, zero GDP colleagues, some of which have deep roots in the former Communist Party of Australia.

  23. shepherdmarilyn

    Yeah I am heartless. I reckon wasting $772 million on locking up those here is pretty bad while millions starve.

    TT and CML are stupid beyond belief.

  24. CML

    Just once in his miserable sounding life, TTH is right. I agree with him/her that Marilyn is indeed “a heartless woman”. When you are a rolled gold, very public, publicity seeking refugee advocate, it is okay to pick winners apparently. What a bl++dy hypocrite!
    As far as I’m concerned, whomever the Australian people decide THEY want to come and settle in this country, is entitled to do so. And if the law says otherwise, then lets change it, because it is totally unacceptable to many of us. Every refugee should have the opportunity to make application for entry here, not just the few who have money to pay criminals to get here.

    And Marilyn, if it is not safe in Indonesia (and presumably, Malaysia), I ask again – why is it okay for the long term refugees in these countries to stay there, but not your precious people from the middle east? That is just a weird form of racism – reprehensible and unethical, to say the least.

    I’m outa here – sick of all this cr+p!!

  25. fred

    Thanks for analysis and facts. Can you get Government to verify the figures? or explain what’s wrong with yours? You’d think that the numbers people at the AFR would crunch numbers – in the national interest, because this gross waste of resources to do the inhumane and unlawful thing to asylum seekers is nauseating. Can we continue to waste money like we are today on detention, stopping legal asylum seekers from landing etc?

    So sad to see some of the regulars above banging on about the hordes that will swamp us if we are not tough on border security. Take a good look at the passengers on those boats and assess their threat to national security! The system we have in place sorts the genuine from those coming for a very dangerous ride. Only confirmed refugees – adjudicated, mandated what ever technical term you prefer- are granted a visa to stay. If not genuine, with proven claims of persecution , we are entilted to turn them around. The very awkward and politically inconvenient truth is that those who dare to come by boat, are generallty genuine. Imagine if all those onshore applicants who came by air – outnumbering boaties 10:1 were genuine!

    Marlilyn is correct about the cherry picked refugees who come in our orderly refugee migrant program … the Burmese families arriving as part of the additional 1000 humanitarian entrants this year. We have no obligation to resettle them, but we chose to do so, good world citizen that we are. Bitterly ironic that we nevertheless chose to breach the international legal obligations we have to protect anyone who crosses our border and asks for our protection. Asylum seekers = obligation. Refugee settlers selected from the UNHCR pool= elective.

  26. TheTruthHurts

    [For christ’s sake, those in camps are not entitled to come here]

    Well there we have it folks.

    What a heartless, heartless woman.

    Let em rot Marilyn reckons. Just don’t pull on the heartstrings like the designer clothed blow in’s.

  27. shepherdmarilyn

    For christ’s sake, those in camps are not entitled to come here. Will you raving lunatics just dry up.

    Where are the laws that say refugees have to be destitute? Come on jack asses.

  28. TheTruthHurts

    The asylum shoppers in Indonesia have “made it” so to speak.

    The ones we should be worried about are the few million stuck in disease and poverty stricken refugee camps.

    The designer brand wearing queue jumpers should be the least of our concerns and should be sent back forthwith.

  29. shepherdmarilyn

    Really, a boat that gets here safely is more dangerous than Afghanistan, Iraq or Sri Lanka when only a few people have drowned but millions have died or been orphaned in those three countries?

    Really, better tell the government to stop all boating in Australia then because more people die in Australia each year than have died on boats getting to Australia since October 2001 – post SIEVX.

    And don’t say ‘it’s safe in Indonesia” because it is not safe in Indonesia.

  30. The_roth

    @Venise Alstergren

    Quite a few politicians from either party toe the line for sake of solidarity even though they don’t believe what they are saying or writing – Malcolm Turnbull is the most obvious case in point.

    However in TTH’s case I fear you might be right..sigh.

  31. David Hand

    No Marylin, if anyone can seek asylum, then adopting strong border security does not condemn them to die. Your notion is absurd.

    For many, the biggest risk of death is getting on a leaky boat.

  32. shepherdmarilyn

    No David, if people are allowed to seek asylum we need open borders for them. Otherwise they die.

    And TT there are no frigging people smugglers doing anything, there are refugees paying for transport.

  33. David Hand

    Oh no Marylin,
    The Burmese refugees explicitly said on the TV programme that they had no papers when they fled across the Burma / Malaysia border.
    After all, they’re genuine refugees, fleeing persecution and I’m glad to see they made it to a new life in Australia.
    You also make a good point that absolutely anyone can seek asylum. That is why we need strong border security.

  34. Venise Alstergren

    THE_ROTH: I know, I read what you said, you are correct. I was wrong.

    “”No one could spout such drivel if it were their own personal position.”” You don’t think you’re being a bit too charitable here? How could you write it without believing it? It would be like a tight-rope walker denying the rope he’s walking on. I think?

  35. The_roth

    I did suggest you didn’t engage TTH. He has to be an agent of one conservative party or another employed to stir up trouble.

    No one could spout such drivel if it were their own personal position.

  36. CML

    Bluedog says there are 4.7 refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan alone. Are we going to take all of them? How much social unrest do you all you morons think even a fraction of that number will cause in this country? You don’t even seem to care about the consequences of your blind advocacy.

    And Michael Crook – How many of the 1600 people who were locked up by the Malaysian authorities were Burmese refugee pro-democracy demonstrators, and socialist party members who had “offended the king”? What a ridiculous thing to say. The only good thing about the so-called Malaysian solution is that we will settle 4,000 Burmese refugees who, before this policy was announced, had zero chance of ever having a life in Australia. I keep asking, and no one is answering, why are the boat people more important than the Burmese and other people who have already been granted refugee status and waited for years in Malaysia? The only obvious answer is that the former have money to pay people smugglers, so are therefore more acceptable than those who have nothing. Not good enough.
    I am also quite well educated, thank you Michael. I’ve been observing the socio/economic/political scene in this country for well over 50 years, so don’t try to tell me what to read, watch and say. It would be good if you could just grow up a little, and stop being so infantile!

    Marilyn – Why would the Burmese even bother to apply year after year when only a handful of them will ever be successful? They may be many things, but I don’t think they are stupid!

  37. Suzanne Blake

    I reckon I could detain them for a year, with food, health, education, and all the other trimmings for half that cost. Where do I apply.

  38. Venise Alstergren

    TTH: To suggest the following in all seriousness…””Too occupied letting in the Gucci Sunglass wearing illegals from Indonesia.”” Is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read….And you certainly know nothing about Asia.

    Go to any market place throughout Asia and you’ll find hundreds of these so-called Gucci sunglasses. Hell, six months ago I picked up a very nice Rolex watch for thirty bucks. Go out and get yourself a decent education, try mixing with the people you despise, you could end up liking them.

  39. shepherdmarilyn

    An interesting figure has been released today about KL – for all our maundering on about the Burmese only 994 refugees applied from KL last financial year, a drop from 1059 the year before. Now that means that less than 1% ever apply from KL so our increase will be meaningless.

  40. shepherdmarilyn

    They don’t sneak in tt, what an idiot you are. How the hell do you think 100 people at sea with war ships, radar and planes following them can “sneak in’.

    All refugees then “sneak in” even when the world can see it happening – like the 40,000 Somalis who “snuck” into Kenya in July.

  41. TheTruthHurts

    [TTH helping refugees! Now that is funny.]

    Well someones gotta speak up for the millions sitting in diseased impoverished refugee camps wondering when their next meal is, because I can tell you it’s pretty clear to me the left couldn’t give a flying fig about them.

    Too occupied letting in the Gucci Sunglass wearing illegals from Indonesia. Pulls on the lefties heart strings apparently, but I don’t get it.

  42. TheTruthHurts

    [I trust all the people who are anti-refugees on economic grounds have the same respect for the amount of money lost by]

    I’m pro-refugee, anti-queue-jumper

    [compulsive gamblers]

    Their money not mine. Besides we can’t kick them out of the country because they are Australian citizens

    [fanatic smokers]

    Aussies…

    [If people like TTH can honestly say that f they were in the refugees’ position they wouldn’t deign to access people traders on moral grounds only. Ha!]

    It’s the boatpeoples job to try and sneak their way as immorally and unfairly as possible into our country under the banner of humanitarian reasons to suckle the tit of Australia’s generous welfare and housing system all at the tax payers expense.

    It’s my job as an Australian citizen to stop them.

    I’m not in the “refugees” position, i’m in my position.

  43. davidk

    TTH helping refugees! Now that is funny.

  44. Venise Alstergren

    I trust all the people who are anti-refugees on economic grounds have the same respect for the amount of money lost by compulsive gamblers, fanatic smokers, and the boatloads of officials and second-rate contestants in the Olympic games, and the Commonwealth games, and every other shonky sporting exercise the unfortunate taxpayer has to pay for. If all this money went to helping refugees Oz would truly be a lucky country.

    If people like TTH can honestly say that f they were in the refugees’ position they wouldn’t deign to access people traders on moral grounds only. Ha!

    TTH: Don’t bother replying, I don’t read your trash in the first place.

  45. shepherdmarilyn

    David Hand, how do you know that the refugees who were imported under a non-binding voluntary scheme had any frigging papers when they paid “smugglers” to get them from Burma to Malaysia?

    The definition of a refugee is a person with a well founded fear of persecution and is outside their own country.

    Where does the convention mention not paying for transport, or having money or the rest of the prattle morons like you come up with?

    And where does it say they have to have papers to seek asylum? They certainly don’t need them under Australian law.

  46. The_roth

    Son Of Foro

    Well at least, as a country, we have our spending priorities right. We can’t let all those nasty foreigners take all the garlands due this great sporting nation!

  47. Son of foro

    Roth

    Seems I was underestimating the cost of our heroes:

    “At the International Olympic Committee congress in Sydney in 2000 an academic paper was discussed in which $15 million was given as the cost of each of Australia’s bronze medals, $40 million for gold and silver. ”

    It looks worse if you include all the zeroes: $40,000,000.00 per medal.

  48. The_roth

    @ Son of Foro

    If that’s true I want my money back – I have no interest in sport whatsoever!

  49. Son of foro

    What’s the fuss? Each Olympic gold medal costs the taxpayer $1,000,000.

  50. bluedog

    Like most media comments on refugees it misses the point and the solution entirely. The reason we have no money for hospitals, schools and infrastructure is the billions of dollars we have wasted on our refugee creation policies. According to the UNHCR annual report 4.7 million refugees have come from Iraq and Afganistan which is almost half the worlds population of refugee. It has cost the taxpayers of Australia, Britain & the USA Billions of dollars to blow these countries back to the stoneage in wars based around total lies. After creating Nearly 50% of the worlds refugees we have only accepted 0.6% of them. I have long admired Tony Abbots stance on people taking personal responsibility for their actions. When is he going to take personal responsibility for the refugees that the Government he was part of have created.
    Since the second world war we have remaind along with the USA the biggest creator of refugees in the world. We left 5,ooo,ooo dead and countless refugees in vietnam. Then under the Hawke Government we blindly followed the USA in supporting Pol Pot against his own people and created thousands more refugees.

    If we don’t want refugees the the answer is simple and cost effective. Lets us stop creating them and use our concentration camps to house the war crimals like Hawke and Howard instead of refugees. Ian Bolton Kotupna

  51. michael crook

    CML, your world view appears somewhat awry.

    Malaysia is the country that recently locked up 1600 pro democracy demonstrators and jailed members of the Socilaist Party, including MPs because they “had offended the king”.

    It also uses the cane to punish people arbitrarily.

    I suggest that you get your information from somewhere other than the Australian media.

    Our treatment of refugees is illegal under international law, it is also quite pointless as it costs a fortune.

    Dont forget too that most of these refugees are fleeing persecution from regimes that we support or from illegal and unjustified wars, that we are fighting on behalf of our American masters.

    Go back to school before you comment again.

  52. CML

    @ DH – You have hit the nail on the head! I too saw the Burmese family on 7.30 and thought how good it was to see some folk who have been waiting for years to reach safety, finally make it. And I hope there will be many more. These people have done the right thing – reached Malaysia, applied for refugee status and never contemplated getting on boats (too dangerous for his children, the young father said). They do not need detention in Oz, just a helping hand to get started in their new life. Good on them.
    Meanwhile, we have the boat people who think thay are more important than everyone else, have money can travel and don’t seem to care about putting their children’s lives at risk. If we forget the law for a moment, purely on moral grounds why should we be forced to accept these people over others (in our region) who have been waiting for years? It is all about those who have money it seems – hardly an edifying decision.

    @ SM – “The reality is that it is people on the boats who are doing nothing wrong”. Of course they are. Consider the fact that these people are buying a passage of very short duration, which in any other circumstance, one would expect to cost a few hundred dollars. It is the illegality of that fare which makes it so expensive, and both the seller and the buyer are culpable. If you were to buy a stolen work of art, knowing it to be stolen, I think you would have difficulty proving you did nothing wrong.

    The other argument that is always given by refugee advocates is that boat people are fleeing from persecution etc. etc. Where is the persecution in Malaysia? Of course, they cannot look forward to all the creature comforts there which would be available to them in Oz, and Malaysia is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention. But it always seems to me, that said advocates are saying it is okay for people like the Burmese and others to stay in Malaysia and eke out an existence for years, but it is not okay for anyone who has money. Like all these people from the middle-east. That is totally immoral in my book.

    @ RZ – I have no idea what you are talking about. What evidence would you like about what? And what has a passport costing $20,000 in Europe got to do with anything? Sounds like a fake passport to me, and that is also illegal.

  53. David Hand

    Well I liked the look of that Burmese couple and their small child on 7.30 tonight who have taken up residence in Melbourne to begin a new life in Australia. I hope the rest of their family members make it.

    They compared very favourable to the afffluent looking people, also in the news, who were shepherded into Christmas Island this afternoon after destroying their passports and shelling out the equivalent of a first class air ticket each before getting on a leaky boat.

  54. shepherdmarilyn

    The reality is that it is people on the boats who are doing nothing wrong.

  55. TheTruthHurts

    [First: The unconscionable headline seeking media as well as the well known unscrupulous political players need to apply self-censorship and stop exploiting this issue.]

    Why self-censorship? Because the left can’t win this debate on it’s merits and we live in a democracy. Thats why.

    Most Australians including myself fully support refugee’s being allowed into the country and being helped to integrate. Key word there: Refugee. Not people who fly in from Pakistan, burn their ID papers, pay a people smuggler $20K and jump the queue on a leaky boat.

    [Second: Once it is out of the public limelight the government can then close all “detention” centres and provides “processing” facilities on the mainland for health, security and identity check purposes. That’s the humane thing to do. Do we have the maturity and the will to do it?]

    It will never be out of the limelight while the boats roll in.

    If you stop the boats, the issue goes away and no one cares. Before the 2007 election boatpeople was a NON-ISSUE. Why? Because there were no boats.

    In 2001 and 2010 boatpeople was a big election issue. Why? Because there were lots of boats.

    This issue will never go away for Labor because they are too gutless to take the measures required to put this topic to rest.

  56. shepherdmarilyn

    For heaven’s sake, 0.0001% of the world’s refugees each year makes us the world’s most inefficient magnet.

  57. TheTruthHurts

    Most Australians didn’t care about boatpeople until LABOR(Yes you read right, LABOR) made it an issue.

    How did Labor make it an issue? By making Australia a magnet for people smugglers and boatpeople.

    Between 2002-2008 it was a non-issue because the amount of boats were negligible.

    Labor wasn’t happy with this negligible amount of boats and wanted to make it an issue again by playing around with effective laws which stopped the boats. Now they are whinging that the Coalition is making an issue out of it? Hypocrits!

    BTW, the left can’t sit there whining that the right are making political points by playing the boatpeople card. We’ve been listening to the left whinge about Howards boatpeople policies for about 10 Years now and you lot STILL haven’t gotten over children overboard(a politician told a lie, build a bridge and GET OVER IT)

  58. shepherdmarilyn

    No, it is not people smuggling, it has never been people smuggling and whether or not people pay for the transport is zero to do with us.

    We are the only country on earth that calls seeking asylum people smuggling and we only started doing it in 2000 under Ruddock.

    At every other point in history it was known that refugees are allowed to pay for their transport.

    I do wish people would stop listening to the lunatic blather of the ignorant pollies who know they are lying and don’t care.

    Bowen is still insisting we have to have detention but he doesn’t say why.

    They are like two sets of nazi brats aren’t they.

  59. Liz45

    @MICHAEL CROOK – I agree! Best wishes to Marilyn and others with a compassionate voice!

    I’m out of words re this horrific situation. The racists and lovers of demonising people depress me! I think 7.30 had a good story last night re an alleged ‘people smuggler’ from Iraq. Far from being an ‘evil’ person, even the Judge had a good word for him – he still sentenced him to 4 years.

    As for the trolls! Treat with ignore – I am!

  60. zut alors

    Mike Crook,

    You’ve summed it up perfectly.

  61. fredex

    I ‘forgot’ to mention a lot of things because of space.
    That is why I referred to the article itself so people could read all of it.

    The essential and salient point however is that not ‘all’ Australians are fixated with this issue.

    That many, 49% in one respect at least, do not see the issue as a major problem.

    That the public perception has been coloured by misleading numbers and interpretations eg [from Bowes’ article] “which noted that results had been heavily influenced by “the way questions are framed, the kinds of questions that precede these questions (and) the range of possible responses the questions allow” another element I deliberately omitted to mention for reasons of length.

    The short of it all is that this issue has been blown up out of all proportion, witness the media barrage that all Australians have been subjected to years yet despite such many, perhaps most Australians and certainly a long long way from all, do not unduly worry about accepting asylum seekers into our country permanently.

  62. michael crook

    At last, a price tag on racism, expensive isn’t it.

  63. Rena Zurawel

    CML
    Have you got any evidence to your claims?
    Do you know the Migration Act? Read it, and try to think who is ignoring our laws.

    According to former Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, Australian passports used to cost $20 000 over in Europe when he was the mionister.. No need to claim refugee status.

  64. Daniel

    Noted fan of totalitarian regimes, “TheTruthHurts”

  65. GocomSys

    Global view (the underlying malaise)

    In a healthy, vibrant democracy lively debates and a diversity of opinions are essential and should be encouraged. Extremist views however, once aired, must subsequently be subjected to vigorous scrutiny

    In our current sick environment of widespread ignorance, intolerance and selfishness only exposure and rigorous curtailing of damaging practices will prevent the destruction of what is left of our civil society.

    Example 1: When a person with all the above attributes and a willingness to spread fear and uncertainty in the public in order to gain power must be condemned. A person like that is a disgrace and has no place in a civil society.

    Example 2: When a media outlet publishes lies or spreads misinformation, immediate action is warranted to prevent further damage to our already adversely effected national psyche.
    ————————————————————————————————————-
    Specific view (“asylum seekers”)

    First: The unconscionable headline seeking media as well as the well known unscrupulous political players need to apply self-censorship and stop exploiting this issue.
    Second: Once it is out of the public limelight the government can then close all “detention” centres and provides “processing” facilities on the mainland for health, security and identity check purposes. That’s the humane thing to do. Do we have the maturity and the will to do it?
    I am not holding my breath!

  66. CML

    @ FREDEX – You forgot to mention that in the poll results you quoted, some 60% still believe that asylum seekers/refugees, including children, should be in detention – and that is where all the money is spent.

  67. Rena Zurawel

    Just follow the money:
    Cui bono? Cui Bono? Cui bono????
    And who gets the money?
    It looks like a good business.
    And we still haven’t frightened off the smugglers.

  68. CML

    @ SM – I am gobsmacked!! So you think that the NOT people smugglers are just nice people giving the asylum seekers a ride? Pretty expensive ride at $15,000 – $20,000/person. What planet do you live on? They are part of organised crime syndicates, AND THEY ARE BREAKING AUSTRALIAN LAW. If not, how come they can be arrested, charged, found guilty, do time and be deported back to where they came from? I’m not aware that the Australian Courts are just on some kind of frolic – doing all this when there is no law which says these people have done anything wrong. What a ridiculous statement.
    As for this Mr. Al Jenabi, who is currently in the news – why should we make an exception for him? When the government deports a British subject (in his 40’s, I think) who has lived in Oz since he was two years old, because he committed a crime etc. etc., what possible reason could they give for changing the rules? And there have been many others in the same situation who have been refused permission to stay in this country. The law should apply to everyone, regardless of the circumstances. I am amazed that you think it should be otherwise, given you quote the law at us all the time.
    As I predicted, the hard core are out in force on this thread today. Your suggestion that we should just ignore the law, where asylum seekers are concerned, will just make a reasoned approach to the whole problem a hundred times more difficult.

  69. fredex

    Good article.

    May I pedantically quibble about one statement, namely:
    “Australia’s fixation with asylum seekers arriving by boat”…?

    I do not wish to be included in a group described as ‘fixated’ with asylum seekers.
    I disapprove of the unrelenting xenophobic brouhaha that has caused and accompanied this issue.
    I am not the only such person who wishes not to be included among those who are “fixated”, in fact I have grounds [see below[ for suspecting I am in the majority of Australians who do not see the issue as constituting a problem, much less a major problem, for this country.

    The reality is that the inclusion of the word ‘some’ would be more accurate eg “Some Australian’s fixation with asylum seekers arriving by boat ….”.
    No need to to paint us all with the same brush.

    Over at a Crikey sister site, The Poll Bludger, William Bowe has commented on the release of Nielsen survey numbers on the issue of asylum seekers thusly:

    “The Fairfax papers asserted that the poll showed voters “at odds with both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott and the perception that attitudes have hardened against asylum seekers”, and certainly the figures point to a more liberal attitude than the tenor of political debate would suggest …..The number supporting settlement in Australia was nonetheless a very solid 49 per cent …..”.

    The title of Bowes’ article “Of boats and votes” is appropriate.

  70. GocomSys

    I suggest since TTH and BLAKE never add anything to a reasonable debate why not simply ignore their “efforts”. If nobody responds to their often ludicrous comments maybe they hopefully give up and just fade away.

  71. TheTruthHurts

    [People smugglers should get life, meaning lifelong prison terms, and the boats should be auctioned off.]

    The people smugglers know all the loopholes and the latest one is to have the boats captained by 16 year olds.

    No jail term, flown back to Indonesia at the taxpayers expense ready to board and sail the next boat in. Genius.

    If the Malaysian Solution ever looks like getting up, expect boats packed full of kids because Labor will be too gutless to send kids to Malaysia

  72. TheTruthHurts

    [Whatever it takes and whatever it costs, all it needs is a firm, determined decision from the government to never allow uninvited immigrants into Australia.]

    Bingo.

    The problem with the current government is they are trying to have a bet each way.

    We are tough… but we aren’t too tough. We want to stop the boats… but we don’t want to stop the boats.

    You see it time and time again with this government.

    Oceanic Viking, sent em back then promised them insta-visas cos they were too gutless to kick them off the boat.

    Christmas Island and Villawood riots and arson. We might only reward you with a TPV if you play up!

    Malaysian Solution…. we are sending everyone who arrives to Malaysia!(oh except for the frail, elderly, disabled, kids, kids mums, kids dads, gramps, grandma, uncle terry, the guy with one eye and anyone wearing a green shirt that day)

    Labor has to get serious. They either want to stop the boats or they don’t. If they want to stop the boats, reintroduce TPV’s and pick up to the phone to Nauru. The Labor half measures just aint working.

  73. shepherdmarilyn

    Malcontent, will you stop using such ridiculous language.

    What is ‘unscrupulous” about asking for protection from persecution?

    Why is it bad to pay for transport?

    When people fly here under false pretences, claim asylum months or years later and live and work in the community and most are not refugees surely that is unscrupulous?

    And TTh, do go back to Philip’s office, you are not paid to troll surely.

  74. Anne Williams

    Detention is only the beginning of costs incurred by Australian tax payers.

    Once they have been given permission to live here then the costs really escalate. They often don’t have jobs or pay taxes for some time. We the tax payer must supply them with housing, schools, hospital beds, payments for food and utilities etc. Many send money from their Centrelink payments back home.

    Removing detention centres and allowing asylum seekers to be processed in the community is still going to incur large costs. It requires a large number of people and other resources to support these people until they become independant. These costs would be much more difficult to quantify. I guess that makes it appealing to politicians.

    Infrastructure is not keeping up with this extra demand.

    Allowing uncontrolled immigration into Australia is not going to solve the problems of the world.

  75. Arty

    SIEV-X process stops the boats.

    Nauru process didn’t.

  76. malcontent

    Whatever it takes and whatever it costs, all it needs is a firm, determined decision from the government to never allow uninvited immigrants into Australia. People smugglers should get life, meaning lifelong prison terms, and the boats should be auctioned off.

    Once that’s done the problem simply disappears.

    We are not going to solve any of the world’s problems by pandering to unscupulous asylum seekers, organised crime, corrupt governments and the awful home mish-mash of refugee adviocacy groups, the excruciating Hanson-Young, Amnesty and shonky lawyers.

    We did not elect any of these to run our immigration intake, why should we kowtow to them?

  77. The_roth

    Warning warning warning – Do not engage TTH he selectively cherry picks facts to support his spurious arguments.

    He is also suspected of being paid by a conservative party to be a troll on this website.

  78. TheTruthHurts

    [We could easily solve the detention cost problem by not detaining asylum seekers. We save money, and as a liberal democracy the state is no longer detaining people without charge. Win-win.]

    Yes which will then encourage thousands more to come on boats.

    Then we’ll have 100,000 coming to our shores a year wanting welfare, free health care, education, housing, etc etc.

    That will then cost us Hundreds of Billions and send the country broke.

    You solve the costs problem by stopping the boats. Howard saved Billions after the introduction of the Pacific Solution because rather than having 7 or 8 detention centres chocka-block, we had 1 detention centre with a half dozen people in it

  79. Murray Hall

    We could easily solve the detention cost problem by not detaining asylum seekers. We save money, and as a liberal democracy the state is no longer detaining people without charge. Win-win.

  80. TheTruthHurts

    [The cost of establishing and maintaining facilities on Nauru, where asylum seekers were detained before inevitably being allowed to live in Australia, still remains a mystery. ]

    Incorrect, 42% of Boatpeople put through the Pacific Solution got Australian Visas.

    The reality is that the Nauru solution was actually very very cheap because for a large initial outlay, it resulted in long term cost savings by reducing boat arrivals to negligible numbers.

    We see that in Gillards budget where she has had to boost immigration spending by about $1 Billion Dollars a YEAR.

    Now why did she need to do that? Because the endless armada of boats has mean about 6 detention centres have had to be reopened and thousands of new immigration staff hired. That costs big bucks.

    Howard closed detention centres. He did this by having Nauru and TPV’s as a big deterrent to boatpeople.

    You stop the boats, you stop the costs. You stop the boats, you save lives.

    This is not rocket science.

  81. shepherdmarilyn

    $300 million for Nauru. Found out last year. Total cost for Pacific “solution” was over $2.5 billion though once the cost of war ships and other things were factored in.

    I reckon the full cost of this lunacy over the past 20 years has been close to $10 billion when we consider that $1.2 billion was the cost just in the last financial year with $772 million on prison costs alone last year which do not include the $400 million in rebuilding costs and new prisons.

    And for whom? The 2385 Afghans put on hold but have now almost all been granted visas – 1335 in the last financial year alone and 766 in the first 6 months of 2010.

    In the last financial year over 2700 visas were granted but 1500 remained jailed.

    A family could have had a decent house bought for them for the cost of their illegal prison.

    When things are so bad even that hard arsed Metcalfe is calling for a better way then we know the pollies have gone way over the top in their wish to punish innocent people over and over again.

    And for the people smuggling – Mr Al Jenabi helped his family escape Saddam Hussein, he spent 8 years in Abu Ghraib but Australia rendered him from Thailand because he helped people in Indonesia and we jailed him for 4 years claiming he broke some law.

    He still lives in limbo, his is just one of the many stories of not people smuggling we jail innocent people for.

    http://www.sievx.com/articles/sentences/20040921THEQUEENandALHASSANABDOLAMIRALJENABI.html

    And Article 232a of the migration act means nothing more than giving refugees a ride yet our courts are so dumb they think it means smuggling – out in the open? Really, smuggling out in the open?

    What a hoot. People should stop wearing heroin strapped under their clothes and wear it outside their clothes.

    Finally, slowly but surely some parts of the media and courts and lawyers are catching on to the fact that there are no people smugglers.

  82. nicolino

    Both major parties have been cavalier with taxpayers’ money and I often wonder how this country functions because all one hears is bungle after bungle.
    I can’t recall any real success stories where it comes to government spending. Makes you wonder whether we are getting value for money with this lot.

  83. CML

    Good article, Bernard. I guess the Australian public now have an informed choice – continue on as usual, knowing that the cost/asylum seeker is exhorbitant, or come to their senses and process people on-shore at a fraction of the cost.
    My guess is that neither will be acceptable to the hard core, and we will be back to “turning the boats around”, letting people drown, or the “go back to where you came from” scenario. More trouble ahead.

  84. zut alors

    Jiminy Cricket, this accommodation is even more expensive than Oprah’s presidential suite at Sydney’s Intercontinental last December.

    Perhaps Chris Bowen should approach the Intercontinental chain to arrange a party booking for the next boatload – it would be more cost-effective. After all, the Oz government/taxpayer already did a deal with them on Oprah’s bill.

  85. rossco

    “investigated by the Howard Government”? Is that meant to be “instigated”. I don’t recall the Howard govt investigating any of its bungles too deeply.

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