Friday, 20 May 2016

Australia’s refugee detention programme “uneconomic, inhumane and flat-out stupid”


Australia’s refugee detention programme is supposed to save the country* while saving the country money.

Neither is true.

Minister in charge of the programme Peter Dutton is down to arguing that a flood of "illiterate and innumerate" refugees “would be taking Australian jobs, there's no question about that." It surely makes you wonder how poorly Australians must be doing their jobs if they would be taken by folk who are illiterate, innnumerate and (in Mr Dutton’s eyes) barely human.

If they weren’t in here stealing Australian’s jobs, says Dutton, they’d be out their languishing on welfare – costing Australian taxpayers money. (You wouldn’t know an election is going on, would you?) Yet the programe to keep them out is already costing Australian taxpayers several billions. (Not to mention any reputation for humanity.) Taken together, refugee detention centres cost more then putting 670,600 people on the dole. Or to put it another way, every single asylum seeker currently detained on Manus or Nauru already costs Australian taxpayers around $400,000 for each person every year.

By contrast, allowing asylum seekers to live in the community while their claims are processed costs just $12,000 each person per year, one twentieth of the cost of the offshore camps, and even less if they are allowed the right to work.

And work is what they do really want, which is how refugees more than pay their way. Indeed,

the latest report from [Peter Dutton’s] own department, compliled just a couple of years ago, shows that overwhelmingly refugees, asylum-seekers, those who’ve come in under the humanitarian programme to Australia overwhelmingly contribute. They are not a burden on [taxpayers]…
    These reports by his department that have been prepared over twenty or thirty years have shown that they are the opposite of a burden or a cost to the Austrailan economy and society. They contribute on every level possible. They are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be here,and they make something of themselves.
    And just as a sidebar: five of the eight billionaires on the
BRW Rich List have come from impoverished migrant backgrounds.

So not just uneconomic, but inhumane and flat-out stupid.

No wonder the ruling Liberal Party see this treatment as an Australian election winner.


* But, but, if taxpayers guardians weren’t out there on the high seas stopping the boats, says Julie Bishop, there would be “millions” of “boat people” flooding in.
Not true: “The highest ever number of asylum seekers to arrive by boat in one year, 2013, was 21,000. That was just 9% of Australia’s overall annual immigration intake that year. In the same year the USA took 88,400 claims, France took 60,100, Germany 109,600 and Italy 27,800. The Liberal government has now slashed the annual intake to 16,500.”



  1. While you may argue the current policy it is not 'saving the country' or saving the 'saving the country money' is saving something. Check the numbers on:


    As well all know correlation does not equal causation but could there possibly be a relationship between immigration policy and some kind of 'saving'.

    Guess the 'cost' of current policy depends on the value attached to human life in some Asian slum against one in a happy, smiley, readily integrating, non welfare-dependent, GDP contributing, immigrant paradise (.....minus the ones who never quite make it)

    1. AS they say, Anonymous, given the known risks they face in heading out on the water, that gives you a clue about the life on land from which they are trying to escape.
      Moreover, your policy is to stop them taking that risk by facing them down with gunboats. Nice.

    2. My point was that, whatever the 'costs' associated with the current policy of sending them home at the point of a gun, it does accrue a positive benefit in terms of lives saved (however crappy those lives may be).

      Different immigration policy, with lower disincentives (i.e. less guns and detention facilities), quite clearly results in higher mortality. Humanity aside, as to whether that is an overall cost or benefit depends on how you value those individual lives.

  2. All the more reason to ship them all back where they came from within a week of arrival.

    1. There is no reason to your reason, Ben.

    2. There is more reason in my suggestion than there is in believing they will magically assimilate into the Australian economy & society. Most of them aren't even functionally literate.

    3. A hundred youths, apparently of African origin, just smashed up someones house in a suburb of Melbourne. They rampaged down the street smashing things and attacked police when they arrived.

      Well integrated.

  3. How would you stop the boats, Peter?

    1. There is a considerable cost to taxpayers for the ongoing and increasing security that is needed in regards to the growing jihad threat. How would you ensure that you don't add to that burden? At what speed could you process Muslim asylum seekers as they land unannounced on Australia's shores? What would you do with people who have no passport and no adequate identification of any kind?

    2. "How would you stop the boats, Peter?"

      Why do you think that's necessary, Richard?

      And why do you think you have the right?

      Further, why do you never choose -- not once -- to address the actual arguments and numbers raised in posts like these?

      And why, pray tell, does your attention appear so single-mindedly devoted to building walls and banning people breathing free instead of being the freedom-fighter you were once supposed to be?

      Intelligent people would like to know.

      PS: You second set of questions: asked and answered, in previous posts whose actual contents you ignored.

    3. "And why do you think you have the right?"
      Err, because: Australian immigration laws?

    4. Most people would argue citizens have a right to not have their country ruined by idiotic open-door immigration policy.

    5. "Most people" buy lottery tickets even though they have more chance of drowning in the bath.

      What governments are entitled to do is not based how "most people" feel, but upon individual rights.

      So back the actual questions: Why do you think that's necessary, Richard?

      And why do you think you have the right?

    6. Actually Peter, the reason "most people" get to vote is that the nutjobs from each end of the political spectrum tend to cancel each other out at election time.

      Without democracy NZ could be turned into Calcutta in a matter of years by a confused PM who believes catastrophic immigration policy is in accordance with individual rights.

    7. "Why do you think that's necessary, Richard?"

      It's necessary by the fact that if you don't stop it you'll be so overwhelmed with arrivals that you simply won't be able to handle the situation. I am not against immigration. I'm all for people coming through the front door in an orderly manner by the rules.

      "And why do you think you have the right?"

      The role of government is to defend the liberty and property of the people who instituted it. Inviting boatloads of people to come piling in violates that obligation. What makes you think you have the right to do that?

      "Further, why do you never choose -- not once -- to address the actual arguments and numbers raised in posts like these?"

      The costs claimed here don't interest me much. I'm arguing the principle. The 400,000 per person seems like a hell of a lot though. I'd like to see an itemised breakdown of the costs. I suspect much of it is for planes and ships.

      "And why, pray tell, does your attention appear so single-mindedly devoted to building walls and banning people breathing free instead of being the freedom-fighter you were once supposed to be?"

      I am as liberty minded as I ever was, and my stance on this issue is not anti-liberty. It's true that natural rights belong to all, but natural rights are not the same as political rights. Natural rights politically secured come at a cost and they belong only to those people who pay the price for them and who are willing to defend them. If you are in government it is your responsibility to defend them. A policy of open immigration for Mohammedans during this time of war is the opposite of defending the (relatively) free-society you say you value.


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