There is a federal election in the near future so Scotty is preparing the ground. We’ve had premature announcements about dams that are still awaiting clearance from agencies he established and promises of development projects in South East Queensland. Now he’s attempting to clear away some other barnacles on his record.
As The Monthly news noted today, it’s been Nine years too long but the Morrison government has belatedly taken up the longstanding offer from New Zealand to resettle refugees who have been cruelly imprisoned for years. At 150 per year (the New Zealand offer first made in 2013) it will take 3 years to settle the 450 identified for the program. It’s too slow and too late but at least it’s happening.
Coincidentally I had a response yesterday to the letter I sent to the Prime Minister on 24 January.
I wrote to my local member, Garth Hamilton, and the ministers for Home Affairs and Immigration as well as to the PM. My letter/email drew their attention to an article in The Guardian about the exorbitant costs of their program of detention on Nauru. The article noted in part:
Australia’s offshore processing regime on Nauru will cost taxpayers nearly $220m over the next six months as it holds 107 people on the Pacific island.
Brisbane firm Canstruct International has been awarded a new extension – its eighth non-competitive contract extension – for $218.5m to provide six months of “garrison and welfare services” on Nauru. The company’s total revenue from island contracts over the past five years now totals more than $1.8bn.
It currently costs Australian taxpayers more than $4m a year to hold one person within the Nauru offshore regime – a little over $11,000 per person per day.
The government’s latest figures, revealed in Senate estimates, stated 107 people – 81 refugees and 26 asylum seekers – were still held on Nauru.
My message continued:
Please explain, if you can, how this makes any sense for Australian taxpayers when there are so many more useful purposes to which this funds could be put. Not the least of those would be to raise JobSeeker benefits to a level that would lift people out of poverty. For each detainee currently being subject to the cruel regime 100 or more Australian citizens could be supported to live a decent life.
My local MP had his office acknowledge receipt but has not answered my question. The various ministerial responses have followed the same template about ‘strong border protection’ and the PM assured me that “Canstruct has continued to provide the Department with high quality service delivery, and demonstrates value for money operations under the Garrison and Welfare Services contract.”
I find it difficult to see value for money at $11 000 per person per day. For that amount we could provide luxury hotel accommodation which Nauru is not.