Weekly media round-up No. 38

The 2014 Federal Budget released on 13 May contained a number of measures regarding asylum seekers.

The budget claimed an expected cost of $563.1 million in support services over the next five years for asylum seekers currently being processed in Australia. There is an additional $149.9 million over five years to process a backlog of claims and removals, and $27.3 million over two years for unaccompanied minors who will receive extra supervision.

The budget confirmed a new agency called Australian Border Force will operate from July 2015, merging Customs and Border Protection and border functions of the immigration department. The set up cost will be $53.6 million, and the force will receive a $480.5 million package to run.

The budget revealed that Indonesia will receive $86.6 million over three years as part of a regional corporation agreement to manage asylum seekers there. Christmas Island will receive infrastructure upgrades, extra health staff, and child asylum seekers will get better access to full time schooling. Malaysia will receive two retired Bay Class boats from 2015 to assist them in combatting people smuggling. General Angus Campbell warned that stopping asylum seeker boats entirely will take “years, not months, of collective regional effort”.

According to the The Australian, the success of Operation Sovereign Borders means $2.5 billion over five years will be saved. There will be savings of $283 million over four years through closing 10 detention centres and $38.4 million through ending the displaced persons program. There will be savings of $20.2 million over four years from the amalgamation of the Migration Review Tribunal, Refugee Review Tribunal and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The Guardian published information from a G4S submission to the upcoming Senate inquiry into the unrest on Manus Island, including a timeline and account of the events leading to the unrest. As part of preliminary investigations by PNG authorities, The Australian revealed that 450 of the 1200 asylum seekers on Manus Island have been found to be genuine refugees. So far, 450 have not qualified and will be removed.

Fairfax published a statement from a spokesperson for immigration minister Scott Morrison that there were no psychologists on Manus Island, despite Mr Morrison having claiming there were in January 2014. A former case worker on Manus Island called for medical attention for a mentally ill detainee but was ignored.

The Senate passed an amendment to the Migration Act that excludes people who have been given adverse security assessments by ASIO from receiving protection visas. Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young is launching a motion of disallowance in the Senate to remove a code of behaviour in bridging visas that says asylum seekers over 18 must behave appropriately while in the Australian community or their visa will be cancelled.