Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Australia's wasteful racism

Earlier this year the Australian government cut a dodgy deal with Cambodia to dump refugees there. So how has that worked out for them? Not very well at all:

Australia’s $55m plan to resettle refugees from Nauru to Cambodia appears finished, with just four refugees moved to the south-east Asian country at a cost of more than $13m per refugee.

Four refugees – an Iranian couple, Iranian man and a Rohingyan man from Burma – were transferred from Nauru to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in June.

Since then, they’ve lived in relative luxury in an Australian-funded villa, and will remain there indefinitely.

However, Cambodia expects it will take no more from Australia’s resettlement plan.

“We don’t have any plans to import more refugees from Nauru to Cambodia,” interior ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told the Cambodia Daily. “I think the less we receive the better.”

Just another example of the colossal waste of Australia's racist anti-refugee policy. But while $13 million per refugee is extreme, its worth remembering that they already waste $859,000 a year per person for offshore imprisonment (mostly to its gouging contractors, Transfield Services and Wilson Security).

But if Australia is willing to pay such an obscene amount of money not to see brown people, maybe we should step in and take them. Two refugees would pay for John Key's vanity flag referendum. Eight would feed the kids with a universal school lunch program. A hundred would allow us to double government science funding. And if John Key did the decent thing and doubled our refugee quota, and took them all from Australia, it would almost pay for our entire education system (plus, they'd get to go to Australia anyway as NZ citizens).

Not that we should be profiting from Australian racism. But it does illustrate the insane amount of money the current Australian government is willing to spend, and the sheer wastefulness of it. And I am glad to see the program failing.