Australia's 'border protection' policies cost taxpayers $4bn last year
A Manus Island detainee protests conditions on the island. Australia is holding 801 refugees and asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea.Photograph: Refugee Action Coalition Handout/EPAAustralian immigration and asylum
Australia's 'border protection' policies cost taxpayers £4bn last year
Figure includes £1bn spent on detaining 1,140 refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru and a further £1.06bn on border enforcement
Australia's offshore detention of asylum seekers and refugees contributed £1bn to a total cost of more than £4bn for "border protection" policies in the last financial year. Figures provided to the treasury Senate estimates committee, first reported by the Australian Financial Review, reveal that in 2016-17 the government spent a total of £4.06bn on border protection.
That figure included £1.57bn for onshore compliance and detention, £1.08bn for the "offshore management" of "irregular maritime arrivals", and £1.06bn on border enforcement. According to the new home affairs department, in November 2017 there were 1,301 people in onshore detention facilities, including 988 in detention on the mainland and 313 on Christmas Island. There are a further 339 asylum seekers on Nauru in the "regional processing centre".
According to the United Nations human rights commissioner, there are 801 refugees and asylum seekers held on Papua New Guinea - between the three sites on Manus Island and Port Moresby; 616 have been formally recognised as refugees. Further answers to the legal and constitution affairs Senate estimates committee show that the average yearly cost of holding one person in onshore detention in 2017-18 was £346,178. The average cost of community detention is £102,880 per person.
Operation Sovereign Borders involves forcible return of asylum seekers to their home countries, which the United Nations has stated is in breach of its international obligations, and inducements of up to £25,000 to go back. Since the commencement of Operation Sovereign Borders there have been 31 vessels intercepted with 771 people on board.
According to the answers, the 771 people, including 117 children, were returned to their country of departure or origin through "assisted returns", "takebacks" or involuntary boat turnbacks.
For the period of 1 January to 31 October 2017 there were no "successful arrivals" but two people-smuggling ventures were intercepted in Australian waters and the individuals on board were returned to their country of origin or departure. The United Nations' human rights committee has called on Australia to end the practice of "offshore processing", immediately close Nauru and Manus Island, and bring refugees and asylum seekers to Australia or ensure relocation to other safe countries. At least five deaths have occurred on Manus Island: Reza Barati waskilled by security guards during a violent riot at the Manus Island detention facility; Hamid Kehazaei died from an infection after a delayed medical evacuation to Australia; Faysal Ishak Ahmed died after a "fall and seizure"; Hamed Shamshiripour  took his own life; and there was a further suicide by a refugee in the Lorengau hospital.
Guardian Australia has reported incidents of violence towards refugees after the forced closure of the Manus Island detention centre. Some £109m was spent on "regional cooperation arrangements". The figures do not reveal how many refugees have gone to the United States, but 140 people reportedly have so far been resettled.
A total of £6.76m was spent on the Cambodia resettlement program. Seven people resettled in Cambodia from June 2015 to March 2017, but just three remained in October 2017. In the 2016-17 financial year, the department spent in total £9,776,644 on overseas advertising as part of Australia's anti-people smuggling campaign.
These ads targeted people considering the journey to Australia from 11 countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection categorises the £4bn expenditure as necessary to "protect Australia's sovereignty, security and safety by managing its border, including through managing the stay and departure of all non-citizens".
- ^ Australian immigration and asylum (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ first reported by the Australian Financial Review (www.afr.com)
- ^ According to the new home affairs department (www.homeaffairs.gov.au)
- ^ According to the United Nations human rights commissioner (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ forcible return of asylum seekers to their home countries (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ inducements of up to £25,000 (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ human rights committee (www.ohchr.org)
- ^ Manus Island (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ killed by security guards during a violent riot (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ delayed medical evacuation to Australia (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ Faysal Ishak Ahmed (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ Hamed Shamshiripour (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ a further suicide by a refugee in the Lorengau hospital (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ incidents of violence towards refugees (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ forced closure of the Manus Island detention centre (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ 140 people reportedly have so far been resettled (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ Refugees (www.theguardian.com)