Adrian Tame of the Sunday Herald Sun on 31/3/2002 reports that the Australian Government has begun billing asylum seekers for the time it keeps them in detention http://news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,4048900%255E2,00.htmlWe quote from and summarise his article below. Cartoon by Nicholson - Click for the enlargement
The Sunday Herald Sun obtained three of the bills -- one for almost $30,000, another for almost $40,000 and a third for more than $80,000. In a bizarre twist, the men to whom they were issued are forbidden to work or study in Australia.
The Immigration Department has admitted that the allegations are true
Medical and legal costs are added to the bills, and asylum seekers thrown out of the country are frequently billed for airfares and escorts.
Spare Rooms for Refugees spokesperson Kate Durham is reported as saying, "It's a strategic form of financial torture, designed to make them feel they can never succeed here, that their success is not in Australia's interests.,"
Section 209 of the Migration Act states "a non-citizen who is detained is liable to pay the Commonwealth the costs of his or her detention". Julian Burnside, QC, who sought an order against the Federal Government over the Tampa affair, says it appears bills were presented at the department's discretion.
"Under the Act all informal arrivals are unlawful non-citizens and must be detained until removed or granted a visa, and are liable for the cost of their detention," he said. "The Act does not discriminate between those who are released on temporary protection visas, bridging visas or any other sort of visa."
The Immigration Department claims that "If the client (asylum seeker) wins their appeal, they are released with no debt to the Commonwealth."
Ms Durham said she had seen bills as high as $300,000 and heard of others for $600,000. This is yet another obstacle, another form of mental pain for already desperate people," she said. "Anybody who has had any form of large debt will understand that. It makes a mockery of (Immigration Minister Phil) Ruddock's statement to the international community that we do welcome and look after refugees."
Here is Jan's take on all this: These people are not illegal. It is not illegal to come and seek asylum. The government confirms what decent Australians are bound to think about it. They are using every method they can to deter people who flee for their lives from seeking compassion and shelter here.
Indeed, Mr Howard and Mr Ruddock, decent Aussies will conclude your government are cheap, heartless, miserable bastards.
One Man's Web > Politics and Ethics