Campaigns to urge asylum seekers to avoid Australia have received an almost $40 million boost in the Abbott Governmentâ€™s second budget
May 14, 2015 A total of $39.9 million has been allocated over four years for â€œanti-people smuggling strategic communications campaignsâ€_x009d_, both in Australia and overseas. The funding comes amid cuts to the Refugee Council of Australia, which has had its annual funding of $140,000 axed. The cuts will help fund $21 million over the coming financial year for the Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme, supporting â€œnon-illegal maritime arrivalsâ€_x009d_.
The government has also allocated:
â€¢ $389.6 million over two years to fund resettlement arrangements for refugees in Nauru, PNG and Cambodia
â€¢ $164.8 million over four years to upgrade border protection at airports, including the rollout of eGates, additional training for Australian Border Force officials
â€¢ $4.7 million in the coming financial year to station Australian Border Force agents in Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka
Increased use of the Australian Customs Vessel will be facilitated by $74.3 million in funding over five years. The funds will boost the use of the Ocean Shield from 180 days a year to 300 until 2018-19.
The government is due to make savings through changes to the migration agents registration system and the consolidation of the immigration detention network.
Treasurer Joe Hockey said â€œunnecessary detention centresâ€_x009d_ such as Phosphate Hill and Construction Camp on Christmas Island, as well as Blaydin Point in Darwin, would be closed â€“ saving $554.5 million over five years.
According to budget documents, â€œthis measure has been made possible by the Governmentâ€™s effective policy of stopping the boats.â€_x009d_
The government will also save an estimated $1.8 million in departmental expenses by removing the need for consultant migration agents to be registered under the migration agentsâ€™ regulatory scheme.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the Australian Border Force is due to commence operations from July 1.
â€œThe Australian Border Force will be an agency focussed on protecting our borders with the ability to gather intelligence and swiftly deal with existing and emerging threats,â€_x009d_ he said.
Mr Dutton said the government would also maintain the Special Humanitarian Program at 13,750 in 2016-17, before increasing to 16,250 and 18,750 over the next two financial years.
He said this yearâ€™s budget â€“ which will also save $66 million by reducing charter flights between detention centres â€“ would build on savings from the Abbott Governmentâ€™s first budget.
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