Thursday, 14 January 2016

The weirdness that was the Abbott Government continues in the Turnbull Government

New Zealand offers to take 150 asylum seekers off Australia’s hands each year from 2014-15. 

The Abbott & Turnbull Governments could have saved anywhere between $35M and $60M a year on the back of this offer, but what did these two coalition federal governments do?

They said “No!”.

The Guardian, 11 January 2016:

In a deal brokered between prime ministers Key and Julia Gillard in 2013, New Zealand agreed to accept 150 refugees from Australia’s offshore processing centres each year from 2014-15.

The quota remains in New Zealand’s forward planning for humanitarian resettlement.

But when the former Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, was elected he effectively scrapped the deal at the Australian end, saying it would be called upon only “if and when it becomes necessary”.

“Our determination is to stop the boats and one of the ways that we stop the boats is by making it absolutely crystal clear that if you come to Australia illegally by boat you go not to New Zealand but to Nauru or Manus and you never ever come to Australia,” he said.

The Coalition government is loath to have refugees resettled in New Zealand as it is seen as undermining a fundamental tenet of the policy: that boat-borne asylum seekers will never be settled in Australia.

Refugees resettled in New Zealand can apply to become citizens after five years. New Zealand citizenship would give those people the right to travel and work in Australia.
The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said he believed resettlement in New Zealand would be an incentive for asylum seekers to board boats.

Canberra Times, 12 January 2016:

The time asylum seekers spend in Australian detention centres has blown out to a record high under the Turnbull government, leaving men, women and children languishing behind wire, facing an uncertain future.

The latest statistics from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection show that in December, people in onshore immigration detention had been there for an average 445 days. In November, the figure was 446 days.

The average detention period has increased steadily since May last year and is now the longest since the government took power. It is more than double the 200-day wait four years ago under the Labor government.

At 30 December 2015, there were 1,792 people in immigration detention facilities, including 1,647 in immigration detention on the mainland and 145 in immigration detention on Christmas Island.

On that date there were also 537 asylum seekers (including 68 children) in detention in the Republic of Nauru and 922 adult asylum seekers in detention on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.

Detaining a single asylum seeker on Manus or Nauru costs $400,000 per year. Detention in Australia costs $239,000 per year.

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