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Australia has spent $12 billion on detaining refugees for eight years

The Australian Government has spent $12 billion on the offshore processing of refugees and asylum seekers after heavily underestimating costs.

Let’s be real, there is a lot to be angry about with the Australian Government right now. Scott Morrison using taxpayer money to fly to Murdoch Christmas parties, John Barilaro allegedly stealing a building for $700,000 profit, and Gladys Berejiklian ignoring corruption from a man she had a secret romance with. You know what? I’m off to start my own damn government, if anyone would like to join me.

Now, to make matters worse, it’s been revealed in the Home Affairs Department annual reports that Australia has spent $1.2 billion on offshore processing in this year alone. The figure is astronomical, given there are less than 300 refugees and asylum seekers left in detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru – meaning that the figure equates to roughly $4 million per detainee. Yikes, imagine how much Australia would save if they were allowed to settle and pay taxes?

Nauru australia government refugees

In 2021, it is predicted that costs will again increase by $300 million. Meanwhile, a report by The Guardian showed that the cost of offshore processing has been underestimated from between $200 million and $700 million each financial year since 2013.

The department’s future estimates would typically predict the costs of offshore processing would decrease by $400 million, but the final figures have consistently exceeded their estimates by $1.1 billion per year.

Sahar Okhovat, a spokesperson for the Refugee Council of Australia, says that the reason the spending estimates are so miscalculated is because they don’t include many of the costs that are a result of the poor management of the camps.

These include the cost of medical care for those who have to fly to Australia to receive it (as the offshore facilities are not adequate), as well as the legal costs and settlements that are given to refugees and asylum seekers for their mistreatment by staff – which has been thoroughly documented.

“It’s an extraordinarily expensive policy, it’s hard to grasp when you put it against the scale of displacement globally. It’s been costing over a billion per year to systemically torture a very small group of people for a very long time. There is no breakdown, no way to see where the money is spent.”

Senate estimates from 2017-18 say that is costs roughly $10,221 per year to allow people to live in Australia on a bridging visa, while detention costs $103,343 and domestic immigration costs $346,660 per person.

If our government isn’t willing to resettle the remaining refugees and asylum seekers being processed offshore, it would still be more than 10 times more cost-effective to process them in Australia.

Or we could just end this madness and bring them here, for good.