$1bn to keep asylum-seekers in detention
THE Federal Government has been handed a $1 billion bill for the running of Australia's detention centres.
February 09, 2012 12:00AM
Foreign-owned global security company Serco secretly renegotiated its contract with the Department of Immigration just before Christmas.
The new four-year contract to manage immigration detention centres - including Maribyrnong in Melbourne - has quadrupled from the original figure of $280 million.
The Opposition labelled the blowout a failed "stimulus program" for asylum seekers.
The number of detention centres has increased from 12 to 20 under Labor.
While the centres accommodate visa overstayers and illegal workers, the Government admits they make up a small number compared with asylum seekers.
"When Labor came to office there were just four people in detention who had arrived illegally by boat," Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said.
"After four years of policy failures on our borders, this grew to more than 5600."
The variation to the contract with Serco - from 2009 to 2014 - was made on December 2 last year.
It had been revalued in July last year to $712 million, meaning the cost blowout in the past nine months is almost $400 million.
"The original contract did not cover the number of sites we have now expanded to," Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan said.
"It has been driven by a simple reason - the expansion in the number of centres in the network."
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the new contract would not affect the Budget.
Greens senator Sarah Hansen-Young said boat people should be immediately released from detention into the community.