Home杭州楼凤 › Government splashes $20 million on charter flights to Nauru and Manus Island

Government splashes $20 million on charter flights to Nauru and Manus Island

A welcome sign at Manus Island airport. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen The tiny Pacific island of Nauru, which houses asylum-seekers who were bound for . Photo: Angela Wylie
杭州楼凤

Pezhma Ghorbani (centre,hands on head), 26, from Iran looks out the window of the bus after arriving a plane carrying asylum seekers to Manus Island in 2013. Photo: Kate Geraghty

The Manus Regional Processing Centre. Photo: Andrew Meares

Part of the brochure put out by the n government to discourage asylum seekers in Indonesia following the leadership spill.

The federal government spent $1.2 billion running ‘s offshore detention centres last financial year, including $20 million on charter flights alone – more than the budget cuts required to fund Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation cash-splash announced this week.

Figures provided by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection show the government also spent almost $138,000 on an advertising blitz in Indonesia following the leadership spill, warning would-be asylum seekers that ‘s border stance would not yield under Mr Turnbull’s leadership.

Figures show the n-funded immigration detention centres at Nauru and Manus Island cost $1.2 billion in 2014-15, and are projected to cost $704 million this financial year.

The outlay exceeds the cost of Mr Turnbull’s $1.1 billion innovation plan revealed on Monday, including income tax rebates and CSIRO funding. That money will be spent over four years and funded by budget cuts in other areas.

Last financial year the government spent $20.3 million on charter flights from to Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

From July to September this year it spent a further $2.2 million on flights.

Comment has been sought from the department on who travelled on the charter flights, how many flights were involved and why commercial services were not used.

The government was criticised in October over the case of Abyan, a Somali refugee who alleged she was raped at Nauru and wanted an abortion in .

She was flown to on October 11 but flown back to Nauru on a charter flight five days later, after the government claimed she did not want the termination once she arrived. Abyan’s lawyers had attempted to seek a court injunction preventing her return.

Figures show that single return flight cost $115,821. Abyan subsequently returned to to discuss her condition with doctors. It is unclear if she proceeded with the termination, or how much the government spent on all four flights.

The government also spent $137,764 on a “public information campaign” in Indonesia encouraging asylum seekers not to travel to by boat – part of an ongoing push to prevent people-smuggling operations.

This includes a multi-language brochure featuring the warning “No Way: you will not make home”.

It warns that “‘s change of Prime Minister does not change ‘s policy to safely turn back boats or transfer people to other countries for processing and resettlement”.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said charter flights were used “when it is not appropriate to use commercial flights to transport detainees and staff” and allowed transfers for medical treatment.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said every aspect of the government’s offshore detention regime was “frightfully expensive”.

“While the financial costs are significant, it’s the personal toll on the people involved that I’m most concerned about,” she said.

“People seeking asylum come to wanting to integrate into the community and begin a better, safer life. Instead, the government takes those people and spends billions of dollars dumping them on Nauru and Manus Island.

“We need to have a fair and efficient system put in place that can replace the expensive and cruel offshore detention centres.”

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Abyan’s first return flight denied her “much needed medical assistance” and the move was politically motivated.

“The government is treating the taxpayer like their own personal ATM,” she said.

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