14 May 2012

Minister defends Australian immigration costs

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Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has defended the cost of using private planes to deport foreign criminals and failed asylum seekers has surpassed AU$2 million (£1.2 million) since 2010.

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Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has defended the use of private jets to deport foreign criminals as a necessity.

Australian immigration authorities have been forced to use private aircraft to deport 226 foreign nationals, including criminals, illegal workers and protesters, on eight separate occasions at a cost of over AU$2.25 million (£1.4 million).

The trips include deporting 137 Papua New Guinean protesters in 2010 at a cost of AU$221,435 (£138,00), a convicted sex offender to Belgium at a cost of almost AU$400,000 (£250,000) and the deportation of four criminals to the Sudan, Nigeria and Senegal at a cost of nearly AU$875,000 (£543,000).

As the Australian taxpayer has indirectly funded these deportations, reaction to the thought of foreign criminals being deported on private aircraft has predictably been negative but Mr Bowen contends that deportations only occur in this manner when airlines such as Qantas refuse to carry out the deportations.

Mr Bowen says the only alternative to using private aircraft is to allow the criminals to remain in Australia, an unpopular option and one which would incur even greater costs in the long term.

"Charter flights are rare but necessary where the alternative is keeping these people in Australia, with many convicted of serious crimes," said Mr Bowen.

"It is a fundamental part of Australia’s immigration system that if you have no legal right to remain in the country, that you are removed."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge their Australia visa application with the Australian Embassy.

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