The Age has reported thatAustralian taxpayers forked out $280 million in three months to keep asylum seekers and refugees in offshore detention, including 179 children at Nauru, a Senate estimates hearing heard on Monday
Projected out to a full year, that means the cost of the detention centres is running at over $1 billion a year.
When is someone going to ask whether we need to be spending this amount of money to confine a small number of people in conditions that should appal all Australians.
We are reassured by our government that the “stop the boats” policy is successful and that boats are either not arriving or are being turned back. So we can safely assume that the deterrent value of Nauru and Manus Island is probably not $1 million a year.
In fact, if the Government is to be believed, it’s zip.
So processing these people quickly and humanely and then giving them refugee status in Australia is going to save a huge amount of money, some of which could be spent on resettling them.
There does not appear to be any security or border protection advantages in maintaining these expensive and inhumane centres.
It’s time for someone, and that someone should be Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to stand up and say it’s time we ended this appalling blot on Australia’s humanitarian reputation.