Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A ten-billion dollar misery industry

For the past two decades (excluding a small gap between 2008 and 2011), Australia has pursued a policy of mandatory detention of refugees to "deter" them from fleeing war and persecution. Initially this detention was within Australia at purpose-built detention centres, but since 2001 refugees have been dumped in island gulags run by corrupt small island client-states as part of the "Pacific solution".

Naturally, service-delivery is outsourced. And an analysis by the Guardian shows the cost of that outsourcing: at least $10 billion since 2007:

Serco Australia has been the biggest beneficiary, with two contracts worth a total of $3.2bn, including the overall single largest contract worth $2.9bn. Serco Australia is contracted to manage various onshore detention facilities.

The contract value does not necessarily equate to the total amount paid to the contractor, and Guardian Australia understands that detention centre contract values may be higher than they need to be to account for the possibility of detention centres having higher than expected populations.

Transfield Services has nine contracts worth a total of $2.46bn, including a recent contract for $2.1bn to manage the offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

The Salvation Army has been awarded four contracts for a total of $113.2m, with three covering “welfare and support services” for offshore detention and one covering welfare services for people in community detention.

They've also shown the ruinous cost of this sadism. Onshore detention costs A$157,014 per person per year, community detention only A$21,952. But spaces in Australia's Pacific gulags cost A$859,363 - almost a million dollars an inmate. And all to protect the government from political criticism from a vocal racist minority.

And of course now businesses are being paid billions of dollars for the infliction of misery, they have a direct incentive to ensure that such policies continue. Government sadism is profitable (for some). And so they will lobby to protect that revenue-stream, regardless of its morality.