Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed a major border protection budget shake-up. A new frontline agency called the Australian Border Force which will merge the border protection roles of Customs and the immigration department.
Friday 9 May 2014

 

Australia is to have a new single Border Force - merging the roles of Customs and the Immigration Department.
It won't be up and running until next year, potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars, as the High Court begins hearing a legal challenge to offshore processing.

The government has flagged the closure of six more immigration centres on the mainland and Christmas Island which it says will save $280 million. Here's a snapshot of spending for onshore and offshore immigration centres.
The Abbott Government will announce the closure of six immigration detention centres on the mainland and at Chirstmas Island in the federal budget next week.Immigration minister Scott Morrison said the closures of the centres, expected to close...

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison (SBS)

Details of a new 'super agency' to handle border protection have been unveiled by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

The agency, called the Australian Border Force, is set to replace Customs by mid-2015.

In an address the Lowy Institute on the future of border protection, Mr Morrison also acknowledged that authorities have been turning back boats, “where it is safe to do so”.

Mr Morrison said the new agency will be led by a Commissioner who will then report directly to the Minister.

He described the Australia Border Force as “a single frontline operational border agency to enforce our Customs and Immigration laws and to protect our border”.

“We will reverse the erosion of our border resources by reinvesting the fiscal dividend of our successful border protection policies and further reforms back into border protection,” he said.

“And [reinvesting] back into a more integrated, effective, efficient border protection operation.”

He said establishing a single border agency was not a new idea and was formulated after examining UK and US models.

An Australian Border Force college will also be established to train new staff.

Mr Morrison also took aim at critics of the Coalition’s immigration policies during his address.

“Our policies are working,” he said.

“We are doing what we said we’d do…The boats are stopping.”

The establishment of the Manus Island detention centre is being challenged in the High Court today.
Lawyers for an Iranian asylum seeker are arguing the establishment of the centre is unconstitutional. They also claim their client was forcibly removed to Manus Island after seeking protection in Australia. If the action succeeds, offshore...
A new super agency called the Australian Border Force will replace Customs by the middle of next year.
The story so far: Operation Sovereign Borders Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed a major border protection budget shake-up.Mr Morrison has outlined his plans to establish a new frontline agency called the Australian Border Force.The...
Thursday 8 May 2014

Curtin detention centre in Western Australia's Kimberley region. (File: AAP)

The Abbott government is set to save $280 million by closing six more detention centres on the Australian mainland and Christmas Island.

“This is just another example of how stopping the boats is delivering for our country and why the Government will not back down to the pressure of Labor and the Greens to abolish our strong border polices that are clearly working," Immigration minister Scott Morrison said in a statement to The Adelaide Advertiser.

The Northern Immigration Detention Centre and the Darwin Airport Lodge, both in the Northern Territory, will close by the middle of the year, with detainees transferred to other centres.

By the end of the year the Inverbrackie Detention Centre in the Adelaide Hills will close, as will two sites on Christmas Island.

The development comes afer the federal government announced in December it would close four onshore detention centres – Leonora, Scherger, Port Augusta and Pontville - to make a budget saving of $7.4 million.

However, government policy to process asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru will continue to be a drain on the federal budget.

It costs more than $400,000 a person to detain asylum seekers in overseas detention centres a year, compared to $239,000 in Australian detention centres, a graph in the Commission of Audit report shows.

At-a-glance: Onshore detention closures

Centres to close:
-Northern Immigration Detention Centre, Northern Territory (June 30, 2014)
-Darwin Airport Lodge (June 30, 2014)
-Inverbrackie, South Australia (by end of 2014)
-Aqua Alternative Place of Detention, Christmas Island (by end of 2014)
-Lilac Alternative Place of Detention, Christmas Island (by end of 2014)
-Curtin, Western Australia (by mid-2015)

Centres already closed:
-Scherger, Queensland
-Leonora, Western Australia
-Port Augusta, South Australia
-Pontville, Tasmania

Source: Department of Immigration.