It cost the taxpayer $27 million dollars to reopen Christmas Island to house one family. Here’s what we could have got with the same amount.
$27 million. That’s how much it has cost us as taxpayers – from February 16 to August 31 – to reopen the Christmas Island detention camp to house a solitary family. It figures to be $20,000 a day, with no end date confirmed by the Department of Home Affairs.
Over the course of the past year, it has officially held a sum total of only four inhabitants, two of whom are under five years old. The Tamil asylum seeker family who had settled in Biloela, Queensland – Nades and Priya, as well their two-year-old Tharnicaa and four-year-old Kopika – are the only people residing in the camp which boasts 100 staff.
“Senator , it wasn’t re-established for the purpose of detaining four people,” Border Force Commissioner Michael Outramhe told an estimates committee on Monday.
“But you are factually accurate – what’s been spent – has been spent and there are four people in there now.”
What an outstanding waste of money. True, it was not specifically reopened for the purposes of housing a harmless family who had been accepted by their adoptive community only for them to be ripped away cruelly in the night in a brazen attempt to deport them.
It was reopened by the government to deal with sick asylum seekers from Manus and Nauru, who were approved to come to the Australian mainland under the Medevac laws. That makes it so much better.
Let’s have a look at what that $30 million could have bought us instead:
- For $6,612,987 we could have instead brought over the 647 remaining asylum seekers who are still languishing in purgatory on Manus and Nauru and have them live in the community on a bridging visa for a year while their claims were processed. In fact, for $42,693,117 we could have done that with all 4,177 who ended up on Manus and Nauru since 13 August 2012.
- It could start us on the road to improving and cleaning up the Great Barrier Reef. This would make up for three years of funding that has been lost that was going towards improving the water quality in the area.
- We could use it to improve staff to patient ratios in hospitals and/or aged care facilities. Yes, proper reforms would cost $5.3 billion – while in the long run saving $2.6 billion – but we have to start somewhere.
- Replace some of the $2 billion stolen from the indigenous aid budget.
- For the same $30 million, we could have paid off all the student debt for almost 1,500 students with HECS debt in Australia.
- Given every single Australian $1.20.