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Monthly Archives: May 2011

With the release of the recent Australian Federal Budget (2011) comes a chance to examine just how much Australia’s policy of Mandatory Detention really costs.

Answer: $664,285 per asylum-seeker.

Here’s The Figuring

2009: 2750 asylum seekers by boat
2010: 6800 asylum seekers by boat
2011: trending towards 2800 asylum seekers by boat.

Offshore Asylum Seeker Management $1.06 billion
Onshore Immigration Detention $800 million
Total $1.86 bn

Acceptance Rate: 85%

So at 2800 asylum seekers this year it costs $664,285 per asylum seeker to pick through all the pieces to discover that they are in fact legally entitled to be here.

Put another way to detect one non-entitled asylum seeker costs about $4.4 million.

Is that really an effective cost-benefit ratio ?

I’d sooner be spending that loot an something else like funding the CSIRO or Health or anything else worthwhile.

Based on the above figures I have come around to the Greens thinking of abandoning Mandatory Detention and instead setting up a policing system similar to what we use for those on parole.


Despite the Coalition nutcasery about criminal asylum seekers there are almost NO criminals amongst those seeking asylum in Australia. In 2000, 13,000 people sought asylum in Australia. Just 11 failed the Character Test i.e 0.08%. (see the link to ‘Debinking The Myths’ from the Edmund Rice Centre at the bottom of the linked page)

Applying that percentage to the projected 2800 boat arrivals expected in 2011, gives a grand total of 3 “criminals” (rounded up) at a cost of $620 million per criminal.

Its not worth it.

But since this issue is opposed merely on emotional and xenophobic grounds, mostly fear of having our standard of living reduced and fear of cultural hijack then many of those opposing would pay any price for the defence of their emotional security. $620 million per criminal, for those, is money well spent.