Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) CEO Paul Power said the newly announced Australian Government investigation into allegations that millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money were spent on suspect offshore detention payments to politicians and officials in Nauru and PNG was insufficient.
“While we welcome that the Government has initiated investigations into this matter, we have serious concerns about the limited nature of the investigation, namely that it will not examine the policy of offshore detention which created the need for these multi-million dollar contracts,” Mr Power said.
“We are also concerned that there is no assurance that the findings of this investigation will be made public. Secrecy has plagued this policy since the beginning and has contributed to a disturbing culture of limited public accountability.”
Reports published by Nine Newspapers included claims that Department of Home Affairs contracts worth billions of dollars were marred by suspect payments in Nauru and PNG to politicians and officials and that one Australian contractor had paid $1.2 million to his mother.
Mr Power says that nothing short of a royal commission is required due to the gravity of the allegations.
“The Australian people deserve a full, unhindered and public examination of allegations that government contractors made suspect payments to officials involved in Australia’s offshore detention program,” Mr Power said.
“These allegations of corruption align with suspicions long held by many Australians. In its attempt to push away responsibility for people desperately searching for protection from persecution, the Australian Government created its own ethical mire, leaving itself open to paying any amount of money to achieve its goals.
“The brutal mistreatment of people sent to offshore detention, the secrecy associated with the arrangements and the unconscionable amounts of money spent left millions of Australia with a deep sense of revulsion about what was happening in our nation’s name.
“To hear claims that some people used this as an opportunity to line their own pockets is hardly a surprise.
“All alleged corruption must be fully examined to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice and that similar corrupt acts cannot happen in the future.”