House debates

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Statements by Members

Immigration Detention

1:41 pm

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Clark, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

It is costing the Australian taxpayer more than $350,000 per month to hold a single refugee in immigration detention on Nauru. That's right—$350,000 per month, nearly $4.3 million per year, for just one refugee. At a time when there are more than 100 asylum seekers and refugees on the island, many detained for over eight years, that brings the total cost to about $1.7 billion. Imagine if this government had such a dogged commitment to caring for people rather than persecuting them. Just imagine this sort of cash going instead to health care, education, public housing, increased pensions and payments and more home-care packages. That's just the start of my list.

Mind you, it's obviously not the financial but the human cost that many Australians find particularly devastating. Remember, these young men on Nauru have been locked up for years in appalling conditions and separated from their families simply because they were fleeing for their lives and asked Australia to protect them. I've said it countless times in this place, but I need to say it again: Australia has a legal and moral obligation to protect people claiming to be fleeing persecution, to quickly hear their claims and to provide permanent refuge if their claims are upheld. That's what's needed. That's what a government with integrity would do and do now.