Monday, June 11, 2012


Paul - you quote some interesting figures which seem to be right from the mouth of Scott Morrison but not from any authoritative source that I can find. Here’s some current stats on those in detention  - In April 2012, the DIAC website states that there were 4329 people in immigration detention facilities and alternative places of detention, including 3528 in immigration detention on the mainland and 801 in immigration detention on Christmas Island. The DIAC website goes on to state that at 30 April 2012, there were 463 children (aged under 18 years) in immigration detention facilities and alternative places of detention. The majority of children in facilities-based detention have been in detention for less than three months. The site states that no children are detained in an immigration detention centre.

1638 people have been approved for a residence determination to live in the community, (DIAC website) but movement of these approved people into the community has been very slow. 3000 people in generous Australian families registered under the Government’s Homestay Program in May 2012. The first 50 refugees to be placed under that program were moved into Australian homes on the 7th June 2012 (Daily Telegraph 8.6.12).Now I don’t have access to budget papers as you seem to do but all of this is downscaling cost in line with Australia's international human rights obligations, a matter that you did not once mention in your article.

At the same time as the Federal Government committed to moving more refugees and asylum seekers out of detention centres, they also decided in April 2012 to reduce payments to people living in community detention from 89% of the lowest Centrelink Payment, to 70% of the lowest Centrelink payment. This will present a challenge to families who have exited detention with their children. In practical terms this will leave a mother and child with around $300 per week with no concessions, to feed and clothe themselves, pay gas, water, electricity and catch public transport to appointments ( Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Email 12.4.12).

What is the current population of Australia Paul. 22,328,800. Google it.  So that makes the people currently in detention .01% of the Australian population. All your fuss for such a tiny proportion of the population! And of the new arrivals , take note that DIAC also tells us that between 2 and 4% of refugees coming to Australia come by boat, each year. The rest arrive by plane. Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison blather on about turning the boats around because they know that this rings bells in the minds of the poorly informed in marginal seats. But they also know that this could cause more drownings and put the lives of service personnel at risk. You seem to have forgotten the revolt by navy service personnel during the Howard Government, revolted by what they were being asked to do.

Wayne Swan was right. Just about all of the people on Nauru were recognised as refugees and came to Australia, some with their mental health damaged for life. But don't let the facts stand in the way of a good story, or your apology for Abbott and Morrison's rampant populism.

Jenny Haines