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The cost of losing control

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Philip Ruddock MP f?

Federal M ember for D undas Shadow Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs

Electorate Parliam ent House

Tel: (06) 277 4343 Fax: (06) 277 2062

Tel: (02) 858 1011 Fax: (02) 804 6739


The Budget Papers partially reveal the enormity of the costs of the Government's failure to deter spurious asylum claims.

It seems trite to have to recall the disastrous decision to grant quasi-permanent residency to the 20,000 Chinese students who were here at the time of the Tienanmen Square massacre: the admission of 14,000 spouses, de-facto partners and dependent children which the Government belatedly recognised as being subject to widespread abuse: the 23,000 or more asylum seekers as well as the 400 or so boat people. But each of these decisions have unleashed enormous additional expenditure demands.

Funding for refugee, humanitarian and special assistance programs has risen from $25 million to $51 million since last year. This has occurred at the same time that the actual number of refugees admitted through the migration program has dropped from 12,000 to 10,000.

The cost of compliance activity has also risen from $65.5 million in 1991-92 to $83.7 million in 1992-93. This program is to deal specifically with ensuring that students and visitors do not overstay their visas.

The Budget papers make it clear that the revised refugee determination system will cost an additional $25.7 million; interim assistance for asylum seekers will add a further $12.3 million this year and the establishment of the new Refugee Review Tribunal will cost a further $3.2 million. Expansion of detention facilities will also run to almost $5 million over several years.

None of these additional costs include the cost of special benefits, family allowance, family allowance supplement, medicare, labour market programs, English language training and education which may be accessed by four year temporary entry permit holders. These consist of the Chinese students and any successful asylum seeker.

Nor does it include the legal assistance separately offered to asylum seekers.

Clearly while the costs of the Government's inability to control the immigration program has been revealed in DILGEA's budget as exceeding $45 million, together with the hidden costs in the morass of budget papers ranging across various departments, it is not hard to see that the reality over time of a half billion dollar cost to the taxpayers of the Government's failure to handle the

refugee crisis.

18 August 1992

Contact Philip Ruddock on Pager No. (02) 925 3911 #25589 COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH