Apr 11, 2014

A Serco bet? Australia’s immigration centres are up for grabs

Want to run Australia's immigration detention centres? The job is out for tender and is likely to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Serco might not retain it.

Cathy Alexander — Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

The government has quietly put the management of onshore immigration detention centres out to tender, raising the possibility that Serco will lose the job -- or that centres will be shut as part of an overhaul of asylum seeker policy. All Australia's immigration detention centres, onshore and offshore, are privatised, and there's billions at stake for the multinational giants that bid. British services behemoth Serco runs all eight onshore centres (including Christmas Island, Villawood and Curtin). Serco started that contract back in 2009, and it's worth an eye-watering $3 billion. The contract expires in December this year, and the Immigration Department has just issued a "request for tender", inviting bidders to flag their interest. It's not been revealed how long the contract will go for or what it might be worth (immigration insiders told Crikey it would be hundreds of millions). A contract is due to be signed in September; there's no reason Serco can't bid again.

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4 thoughts on “A Serco bet? Australia’s immigration centres are up for grabs

  1. DontPressMe

    That a young Tamil refugee would choose to die a horrible death in Australia yesterday rather than be sent back to his home country tells me this poor individual was never simply seeking a ticket to a ‘first class economy’ as the Minister for Immigration disgracefully implied is the norm (ABC 7.30 10/4). The tone – and undertones – of the Minister’s patterned responses to the refugee situation leave me utterly ashamed of my country and its government.

  2. Zeke

    Scott Morrison wants to send asylum seekers to Cambodia? 40 percent of that nation’s children are malnourished.

    We’ve now got the scenario of one of the richest countries in the world unable to cope with a trickle of refugees and now plans to send them off to third world countries that can’t even look after their own people. It’s a bloody disgrace and makes me ashamed to be an Australian.

    I hope the racist vote is worth it. One day this will all come out into the open, but by then I suppose all the perpetrators of this evil will be long gone and all we’ll be left with is the shame.

  3. Bort

    Serco have that many government contracts, I’d assumed that there were either no other companies that offer these services or no other tenders were looked at.

  4. Cathy Alexander

    Correct, Bort – see some of what Serco does here. And this list is not exhaustive. http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/02/25/meet-the-companies-that-run-our-immigration-detention-camps/

    I’d be very interested to see if there are any other / many other companies which could put in a feasible tender for this. G4S wouldn’t get it. Transfield? And don’t forget that with numbers coming down, the task is smaller. Some more centres will probably close.

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