The government’s offshore detention policy will cost Australian taxpayers $1.2 billion over the next three years, according to a new report.
Figures released by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) show the government’s failure to finalise the resettlement of 535 offshore detainees currently in Papua New Guinea and Nauru will cost $573,000 per offshore person, per year.
And it’s a huge financial cost the director of policy and international programs for Save the Children, Mat Tinkler, believes should not be forgotten.
“We’ve seen first-hand the devastating impact of offshore processing on children, but this report shows that offshore processing continues to come at a huge financial cost to Australian taxpayers,” Tinkler said.
“Better and more affordable alternatives to indefinite and offshore mandatory detention exist, and there is an opportunity for the government to change course and embrace greater regional cooperation which continues to disincentivise unsafe travel by boat but also minimises harm to asylum seekers and refugees.”
The ASRC advocacy director, Jana Favero, said the last six years of offshore process has already cost Australians billions of dollars.
An analysis by Save the Children and UNICEF found Aussie taxpayers spent $9.6 billion between 2013 and 2016 on maintaining offshore processing, onshore mandatory detention and boat turn-backs.
Favero urged the government to find a better, permanent solution.
“The Morrison government must negotiate to find a permanent solution to urgently resettle people held indefinitely for none other than its own political agenda,” Favero stated.
The figures come as Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie makes her decision on the Medevac legislation, which will allow doctors a greater say in transferring refugees from offshore detention to Australia for medical treatment.
“I am certainly in discussion with the prime minister and minister Dutton, and there are no doubts about that, the door is wide open,” Lambie said.
Lambie, who reportedly wants to see offshore detainees resettled in New Zealand, told the ABC she had given the government “a choice” but remained tight-lipped on her conditions.
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