The government awarded a $218 million 6 month contract extension to Canstruct for detention operations in Nauru. This was the eighth non-competitive contract awarded to the company
Australia’s offshore processing regime on Nauru will cost taxpayers nearly $220m over the next six months as it holds 107 people on the Pacific island.
It currently costs Australian taxpayers more than $4m a year to hold one person within the Nauru offshore regime – a little over $11,000 per person per day. The government’s latest figures, revealed in Senate estimates, stated 107 people – 81 refugees and 26 asylum seekers – were still held on Nauru (Doherty 2022)
Canstruct’s parent company was issued a warning by ASIC for failing to lodge financial reports on time (Asylum Insight).
The potential penalty for filing a report late is a fine of more than $25,000.
Canstruct International has earned $1.82bn since 2017 running Australia’s sole offshore processing operation on the Pacific island. Its contract to provide “garrison and welfare services” for a little over 100 refugees and asylum seekers held on the island was extended last week – its eighth noncompetitive extension – for another six months, for $218.5m (Doherty 2022)
The case of Novak Djokovic versus the Australian government drew the world’s eye to Australia’s hard borders. And for a moment, people even looked past the media circus camped outside that hotel to the faces of the refugees also held there.
About 32 are still detained in the Park Hotel in inner-city Melbourne, most of them recognised as refugees to whom Australia owes protection but with no clear idea why they are being held when others have been released. They are not the only ones... More than 200 are left on Nauru and in Papua New Guinea. And thousands are also in Australia on bridging and temporary protection visas (Groch 2022)
Hobart City Council passed a resolution calling for the refugees in hotel detention to be resettled there (Asylum Insight).
Deputy Lord Mayor Helen Burnet put forward a motion to the city council calling for the Lord Mayor to write to Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to add their voice to those calling for the resettlement of those in onshore detention and work to settle them in the Tasmanian capital.
In a vote of 10 to two, the vast majority of council members agreed to the motion for Hobart Council to advocate for the release of immigration detention, dissented by alderman Simon Behrakis and councillor William Coats.
Monday evening's successful motion is the latest move to place pressure on the federal government about the treatment of detainees (Britton, Tamer, Maunder 2022).
The Prime Minister was accused of lying when he said the men in the detention hotel were not refugees.
Human rights advocates have criticised the prime minister, Scott Morrison, after he wrongly claimed those held in detention in Australia for as long as eight years had not been recognised as refugees... Morrison was asked by presenter Ben Fordham how it was “acceptable” that refugees in the same hotel as Djokovic had been detained for almost nine years with taxpayers spending millions of dollars “to keep them in limbo.” In response, Morrison suggested the detainees were not refugees. “Well, the specific cases, Ben, I mean, it’s not clear that to my information that someone in that case is actually a refugee,” he said.
Elaine Pearson, the Australia director of Human Rights Watch, told the Guardian that most of those held in the Park hotel had been granted refugee status. “It’s an outright lie to say that these people are not refugees, when most of them have had their refugee status formally recognised for years,” Pearson said. “They’ve been through that process and it is established that they simply can’t return to their country” (Doherty, Martin 2022)
Religious leaders across all faiths called for the immediate release of refugees and asylum seekers from detention.
Religious leaders are calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to extend the same values of his Christian faith to the 70 asylum seekers indefinitely detained in Melbourne.
Based on a newly-produced video highlighting Mr Morrison’s apparent contradictory stances on showing compassion to others, the #SetThemFree campaign is spearheaded by Anglican Bishop Philip Huggins, Imam Alaa Elzokm, Rabbi Shamir Caplan and Harold Zwier, with signatures from more than 30 Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh leaders (Crellin 2022)
The government confirmed an in principle agreement to accept New Zealand’s longstanding offer to take in refugees who were held in offshore detention.
Nine years after the New Zealand Government said it would welcome up to 150 people per year trapped in the Australian Government’s offshore detention regime, the offer has been accepted. The deal with New Zealand was confirmed ‘in principle’ in Australian Senate Estimates of Government expenditure... "This is a very long and hard-earned human rights win. We’re relieved that for hundreds of people, the torture is nearly over and soon they will get to begin rebuilding their lives." ... Many notable New Zealanders have also called for the deliberate cruelty to stop..."There were thousands of advocates here and around the world who pushed for this to happen (Amnesty Int'l).
... the US does not guarantee that family members of anyone accepted for resettlement will also be granted a visa, and lawyers advocating for refugees in Australia say anyone with a temporary or permanent Australian visa is almost always rejected. Lara*, who fled Iran in 2013 and was on Nauru for more than five years, said she had refused her US medical examination after receiving an email from the US Resettlement Support Center confirming that her partner Parham* would not be allowed to join her (Vesefi 2022)
Canstruct International’s holding company has more than $340m in cash and investments, according to accounts filed with regulator
The company behind Australia’s offshore processing regime on Nauru made a $101m profit last financial year – more than $500,000 for each of the fewer than 200 people held on the island. Rard No 3, the holding company for Canstruct International, which has the government contract to run the Nauru offshore processing centre, has more than $340m in cash and investments, according to its most recent accounts filed with the corporate regulator.
When Canstruct International was initially awarded the Nauru contract in 2017 the company had $8 in assets. Its only significant contract is with the federal government to provide “garrison and welfare services” for refugees and asylum seekers held by Australia on the Pacific island (Doherty 2022).
Over the month of March a total of around 30 refugees were released from onshore immigration detention.
Ten refugees from the Park hotel in Melbourne received less than an hour’s notice to pack their bags before their release late on Friday. Other refugees were released from the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, Brisbane Immigration Transit Authority and Villawood Immigration Transit Accommodation in Sydney. ... It was the second time in three weeks that the department had released refugees from detention late on a Friday, after 13 people were released last month (Wahlquist 2022).
Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie has lifted the lid on a secret deal, saying the PM told her she risked jail if she told the truth about it.
Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie has lifted the lid on her secret deal with Scott Morrison to release over 400 asylum seekers from Nauru and Manus Island, revealing the Prime Minister told her she risked jail if she told the truth about it. The Tasmanian Senator has refused for years to detail what her deal was with the Prime Minister, after she tearfully voted to scuttle Medevac legislation that was originally passed against the government’s will by independents in the last sitting week of 2018.“My demand was to ensure that by the time his term was finished, to make sure that everybody, unless they were a security risk, was off those bloody islands,’’ she said. “I couldn’t tell the story of what had happened because otherwise the deal’s off. That means that people would have been still stuck there” (Maiden 2022)
There is little sense keeping refugees on island at great expense following New Zealand resettlement deal, human rights groups say.
The government must end the “moral and financial black hole” on Nauru by ceasing its contract with Canstruct and returning those on Nauru to Australia in the wake of the New Zealand refugee resettlement deal, human rights groups say.
Asked on Friday whether it would end the Canstruct contract for “garrison and welfare services”, which has so far cost taxpayers almost $2bn, the government declined to answer (Knaus 2022).
A collaborative study into moral injury among refugees who were detained in Nauru revealed a sense of hopelessness and a loss of dignity as common consequences of their experience (Asylum Insight).
“We feel as an animal. It’s not what they do to humans. That time, I felt they were looking at me as an animal. But when they transferred me to Australia, I thought, no, I thought wrong because the people have a very nice behaviour with pets. When I went to the shop for the first time, I saw lots of food for dogs or cats. They have got toilets, they have got doctors. They have everything they need. So, we are smaller than that for the people who work in the detention camp or government" (Pursuit 2022).
Amnesty International 2022, Australia Accepts NZ Offer To Resettle Refugees, February 2022, https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO2202/S00127/australia-accepts-nz-offer-to-resettle-refugees.htm
Alexander Britton, Rayane Tamer, Sarah Maunder 2022, Why Hobart is pushing to resettle the refugees detained at Melbourne's Park Hotel, SBS News, February 2022 https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/why-hobart-is-pushing-to-resettle-the-refugees-detained-at-melbournes-park-hotel/wef2knfgo
Crellin, Zac 2022, The New Daily, Religious leaders call on Morrison to free asylum seekers after Djokovic ordeal, January 2022, https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2022/01/28/refugees-asylum-religious-leaders/
Doherty, Ben 2022, The Guardian, Parent company of Nauru offshore operator fails to file reports in apparent breach of corporations law, The Guardian, January 2022
Doherty, Ben 2022, The Guardian, Nauru offshore regime to cost Australian taxpayers nearly $220m over next six months, January 2022
Doherty B, Butler B 2022,Nauru detention centre operator makes $101m profit – at least $500,000 for each detainee, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/12/nauru-detention-centre-operator-makes-101m-profit-at-least-500000-for-each-detainee?
Doherty B, Martin S 2022, The Guardian, PM accused of ‘outright lie’ after claiming detainees in Melbourne hotel are not refugees, January 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jan/17/pm-accused-of-outright-lie-after-claiming-detainees-in-melbourne-hotel-are-not-refugees?
Groch, Sherryn 2022, ‘Limbo’: What’s happening to refugees still in immigration detention?
Hall, Bianca 2022,
Knaus, Christopher 2022, Coalition urged to terminate Canstruct contract to end financial ‘black hole’ on Nauru. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/mar/26/coalition-urged-to-terminate-canstruct-contract-to-end-financial-black-hole-on-nauru?
Maiden, Samantha 2022, Jacqui Lambie’s secret deal with Scott Morrison to release refugees revealed. https://www.news.com.au/national/politics/jacqui-lambies-secret-deal-with-scott-morrison-to-release-refugees-revealed/news-story/524ac244ae1e0f54a132039a9d9a39f4
Pursuit 2022, LISTENING TO THOSE HELD IN IMMIGRATION DETENTION, https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/listening-to-those-held-in-immigration-detention
Refugee Council (RCA) 2022, Refugee Alternatives, https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/refugee-alternatives/
Vasefi, Saba 2022, ‘Not without my partner’: refugees forced to choose between family in Australia and chance of US visa, The Guardian, February 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/feb/04/not-without-my-partner-refugees-forced-to-choose-between-family-in-australia-and-chance-of-us-visa