Friday, June 15, 2007

Howard Government continues to banish asylum seekers to Nauru at great cost to the tax payer

HANDS-OFF APPROACH: A sick Sri Lankan asylum seeker will be sent to Nauru this week after federal Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews refused to intervene.

Media reports "the 31-year-old Tamil was one of 83 Sri Lankan asylum seekers intercepted by Australian authorities earlier this year and taken to Christmas Island.

In February he was assessed as needing medical attention and taken to Perth for treatment. But doctors say he is now fit to travel.

Mr Andrews has refused to intervene on the case so the man will be transported to Nauru.

"As I understand, he applied to be assessed here as opposed to the other members of the group and there was no reason other than he was needing medical attention as to why he wasn't with the group that went to Nauru and now that he's fit to fly he can join his compatriots,'' a spokeswoman for Mr Andrews said today.

It is understood the man has mental health problems and has shrapnel embedded in his brain from a bomb.

But Mr Andrews's spokeswoman said the man was fit to fly.

"As to the nature of what his current condition is, I'm not too sure, but we relied heavily on medical advice in that instance and he's been assessed as medically fit so he'll be transported to Nauru later this week,'' she said."

It has been reported that transferring and detaining the 83 Sri Lankan asylum seekers already on Nauru will cost at least $60 million of taxpayer dollars. Not only is the ongoing Pacific Solution strategy a brutal human rights violation but it is completely unnecessary. The Greens assert:

"Departmental figures show the cost of keeping asylum seekers on Nauru was $30 million per year in 2003-04 when the Nauru camp last had a significant number of detainees. The average length of stay on Nauru has been over two years. If the Sri Lankans are there for two years it will have cost taxpayers at least $60 million.

"It was revealed at that the recent Senate Estimates that the aeroplane used to transfer just eight Burmese asylum seekers from Christmas Island to Nauru cost $225,000.

"It is a long way from Christmas Island to Nauru and 83 people plus new staff and resources will need multiple jet flights. The cost may approach a million dollars.

"Christmas Island detention centre is also irresponsibly expensive at $1830 per detainee per day. That means keeping the Sri Lankans on Christmas Island is costing over $1 million a week.

"It is strange that the government will squander huge sums on the failed Nauru policy when thousands of other asylum seekers are living in the community while their cases are assessed."

Not so strange when you get the point that the punitive approach to asylum seekers pitched by Howard to attract lurking One Nation sentiments in the electorate remains a winning strategy in his mind.

No comments: