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Aust.: $700,000 to transfer West Papuan refugees

$700,000 to transfer West Papuan refugees to Christmas Island

In Senate Estimates hearings today Senator Kerry Nettle was told by departmental officials that West Papuan asylum seekers were transferred from Weipa to Christmas Island by the Air force who footed the bill. This would have cost the ADF approximately $700,000 based on Defence Department figures.

"These asylum seekers should have been allowed to live on mainland
Australia instead the Government transferred them four thousand kilometres to Christmas Island at an estimated cost of $700,000," Senator Nettle said.

Defence figures for the full cost recovery for a C130J Hercules flight (which was used to transfer the West Papuans) indicate an hourly cost of $35,709. The aircraft would have to travel up from Sydney to Weipa on to Christmas Island and then back to Sydney which would take approximately 20 hours giving a total of over $700,000.

"These massive costs are just one aspect of the foolishness of the Government's immigration detention policy.

"Comments today indicated that no expense will be spared by the
Government in order to hide the ugly face of their mandatory detention policy by taking asylum seekers to remote offshore detention centres.

"We have also heard today that the department spent $72,000 for a medical transfer to Perth from Christmas Island.

"We can expect that these costs will be a standard feature of government policy after hearing today that transfer to Christmas Island is now the preferred option for all boat arrivals.

"These figures confirm that the government is still willing to squander massive amounts of public money to maintain a hardline image in relation to asylum seekers.

"The Government has failed to justify the costs of the construction of the new detention centre on Christmas Island which are running at $210 million dollars.

"The costs of the mandatory detention regime are astronomical, and serve only to leave refugees scared and Australia's reputation tarnished."

© Scoop Media

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