17 Oct 2012

Over 2 million US dollars spent on flying asylum seekers to Nauru

5:36 am on 17 October 2012

Australia has spent more than two million US dollars on flying fewer than three hundred asylum-seekers to Nauru since reviving an offshore processing policy last month.

The Australian newspaper reports that immigration officials have told a senate estimates committee hearing in Canberra it costs taxpayers more than 250-thousand dollars each time asylum-seekers are flown to Nauru from Australia's Christmas Island.

The immigration department's acting secretary Martin Bowles told the hearing that formal contracts are still to be signed with the company running the detention centre, Transfield Services.

He says the department did not have time to finalise the contract, given the need to house some of the thousands of asylum-seekers who have arrived in Australia by boat since the government announced the return to offshore processing.

The hearing was also told three asylum-seekers have attempted suicide, with one man taken afterwards to hospital for X-rays.

Mr Bowles says the government's 'no advantage test' is a complex issue and its approach is an attempt to stop people getting on boats.