Mar 19, 2009

Rudd Government scraps detention debt regime

Rudd Government scraps detention debt regime

MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

March 19 2009

Federal Member for Grayndler, Anthony Albanese MP, has welcomed the Rudd Government’s decision to abolish the detention debt regime imposed on immigration detainees.

The Migration Amendment (Abolishing Detention Debt) Bill 2009, introduced into the Senate today by Immigration Minister, Senator Chris Evans, will waive all current debts owed by detainees, except those convicted of people smuggling or illegal foreign fishing.

The current daily maintenance amount of $125.40 can see a person in immigration detention incur a debt of more than $45,000 in a single year.

The Bill is in line with the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration in December 2008 that the Government repeal the liability of immigration detention costs and waive existing debts.

It also reflects concerns raised by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, in April 2008, that “the size of some debts cause stress, anxiety and financial hardship to many individuals who are now living lawfully in the Australian community, as well as for those who have left Australia”.

“These changes reverse a shameful chapter in our history and I am glad they have been made,” said Mr Albanese.

"Last year, we made a number of changes to deliver a more humane immigration regime, including abolishing the Temporary Protection Visa regime and taking kids and people who pose no harm to the community out of detention.

"The Rudd Government is taking real action to make Australia a fairer place."