Wasteful spend

It is time to take stock and consider a rethink when governments willingly waste taxpayers’ money for no other reason than to make a political point.
Many governments – both State and Federal – fall into this trap, and when it does happen it is usually a sign of arrogance and highlights a disconnect between itself and the wider community.
The previous State Labor Government was a master of dipping into the taxpayer tin to promote itself and its agenda.
The shameless way it did so was an exercise in arrogance.
And last week during Senate estimates hearings in Canberra, the Federal Government was shown to have brazenly wasted millions of dollars in its struggle to deport a single family back to Sri Lanka.
The family was flown by chartered jet to the re-opened Christmas Island detention facility in September where they were, and remain, the only inhabitants.
It has cost $30m to re-open the centre which was brought out of mothballs in March when the Government said offering health services in Australia for some people being kept in detention on Manus Island would re-start floods of asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia by boat.
This has not happened and the only people being serviced by the 100 staff at Christmas Island are the Tamil couple and their two daughters, aged four and two.
These people had previously been living in regional Queensland for several years and, as the Senate hearings were told, are just four out of 62,000 unlawful non-citizens living in Australia.
So, why go to all the expense of detaining these four unremarkable people on distant Christmas Island when the legal dispute surrounding their status could have been undertaken while they supported themselves in Australia?
The short answer seems to be the Government wanted to make a point of being tough.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was keen to make an example and clearly thinks it is appropriate to spend a staggering amount of taxpayers’ money to do so.
Irrespective of where people stand on the issue of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, there is a waste of money going on around this case that is deeply unpalatable to all sides of the argument.
The Government would do well to ensure a repeat of this outrageous waste of money does not occur.
Ministers must remember they are spending the hard earned tax paid by ordinary workers and they should not be sucked into the ‘Canberra bubble’.
Most people understand $30m can buy a lot of nurses and teachers.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.