Scott Morrison not for turning on NZ offshore resettlement deal


It estimated offshore processing is costing the Australian government more than $573,000 per offshore person annually.

Senator Jacqui Lambie walks past Senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The report, At what cost? , found detaining the same person onshore in Australia would save about $200,000 for each person annually, with onshore mandatory detention costing $346,000 on average, compared with $10,221 for those living in the Australian community on bridging visas.

“The cost of keeping these 535 people offshore after six years is enormous – both economically and morally,” the report said.

“A solution should be found urgently – to the benefit of both these people and the budget bottom line.”

Senator Lambie held more talks with Mr Morrison and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on Monday as the government opened up the debate to scrap the medevac laws, which give doctors more say in emergency medical transfers of offshore asylum seekers to Australia.

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Senator Lambie has given her conditional support to repealing the laws but has continued to refuse to reveal what she wants on national security grounds.

“I have given the government a choice,” Senator Lambie said at the weekend.

She said she was negotiating with Mr Morrison and Mr Dutton in good faith.

“We have put a lot of hours into this, from myself and my office, and we are doing everything we possibly can to make sure this is a great outcome,” Senator Lambie said.

Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally told the Senate on Monday that Mr Dutton  had “failed to deliver” on third-country resettlement options – such as the NZ offer which has been on the table since 2013.

She said Labor “strongly supports” the medevac laws, which passed earlier this year with the support of Labor, the Greens and independent MPs in the lower house.

“Medevac is working as intended,” she said. ”It is why medevac was needed and required – to ensure people who are sick should receive the medical attention they require. These laws should not be repealed.”

Almost 180 asylum seekers have been transferred to Australia under the rules, legislated in February over the objections of Mr Morrison, who has tried to reverse the decision since gaining a slim majority in Parliament at the May election.

Mr Dutton said last week the government was largely in a position where it had “cleaned up Labor’s mess”.

“We have got all of the kids out of detention, Manus Island detention centre is closed down,” he said.

“We are getting people close to zero on Nauru. I don’t want boats restarting. I don’t want people drowning again.”

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