Sep 8, 2009

Legislation to abolish detention debt passes Senate

Legislation to abolish detention debt passes Senate

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

September 8 2009

Federal Member for Grayndler, Anthony Albanese MP, has welcomed the passage through the Senate of legislation abolishing detention debts for immigration detainees.

The Migration Amendment (Abolishing Detention Debt) Bill 2009 waives all current debts owed by detainees, except those convicted of people smuggling or illegal foreign fishing.

‘The former detention debt was unjust and ineffective,’ said Mr Albanese.

A person in immigration detention could incur a debt of more than $45,000 in a single year, which the Commonwealth Ombudsman found causes “stress, anxiety and financial hardship to many individuals who are now living lawfully in the Australian community.”

On top of that, not only did the system not recover the cost of detention, it failed to recover the cost of administering the debts.

Less than three per-cent of the detention debt invoiced since 2004/2005 has been recovered, with the vast majority of debts incurred under this system either waived or written off because they are uneconomical to pursue.

For the 2008/2009 financial year, receipts from the repayment of detention debts were $700,000 while it cost nearly $1 million to administer the debts.

Mr Albanese said Grayndler residents interested in hearing more about the reforms being undertaken by the Rudd Labor Government to deliver a more humane immigration system, are welcome to attend a community forum hosted by Anthony, with special guest speaker Senator the Hon Chris Evans – Federal Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, to be held on Thursday 24 September 2009 at 7.30pm at Marrickville Town Hall.