Offshore detention to cost taxpayers $1.2b over three years, new report finds

Australia Business
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New figures reveal offshore detention would cost taxpayers more than $1 billion over the next three years, as debate around the government’s medevac repeal bill continues.

A report released on Tuesday by Save the Children, GetUp and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre breaks down the cost of offshore detention to $573,000 per offshore person, per year.

GetUp human rights director Shen Narayanasamy said the scheme was costly and should be put to an end.

“The responsibility for this $1.2 billion cost sits squarely with this government’s abject failure to resolve the offshore situation,” she said.

“Keeping people detained offshore indefinitely isn’t just morally irresponsible, it makes no economic sense.”

The report, based on the 535 people who remain in offshore detention centres, comes as the Senate prepares to vote on whether medical evacuation laws should be repealed.

The medevac laws, passed against the government’s wishes, give doctors a greater say in transferring refugees from offshore detention to Australia for medical treatment.

Debate around the legislation is expected to continue on Tuesday, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday met with Senator Jacqui Lambie.

She has offered to back the repeal bill on one condition but will not say what that is on national security grounds.

It is believed the condition could centre on the government accepting New Zealand’s longstanding offer to resettle some asylum seekers in offshore detention.

Mr Morrison has ruled out changing the government’s policy to not accept the deal.

Labor’s home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally urged the Senate to block the medevac repeal bill, saying the laws are working as intended.

“Denying people medical care is un-Australian. It is inhumane. It is uncompassionate,” she said.

Meanwhile, more than one third of asylum seekers and refugees currently on Papua New Guinea and Nauru have applied for transfer to Australia in a rush to get in before parliament repeals the bill, The Australian reports.

A total of 171 people had applied, with the applications in various stages of approval, the paper said on Monday.

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