AUSTRALIA’S RUDDOCK REFUSES TO REVEAL COST OF "PACIFIC SOLUTION"

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AUSTRALIA’S RUDDOCK REFUSES TO REVEAL COST OF "PACIFIC SOLUTION"

CANBERRA, Australia (January 24, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock has again refused to reveal to Radio Australia the cost of the government's so-called "Pacific Solution" policy of dealing with asylum seekers.

The boat people from the Middle East and Afghanistan are prohibited entry to Australia and shipped, on military vessels, to Nauru and Papua New Guinea for refugee processing.

Last year, Radio Australia revealed that the Cabinet was told it would cost up to A$ 500 million (US$ 259,150,000) to send asylum seekers to other Pacific nations.

However, the Federal Government has never disclosed the program's exact cost.

Since then, the government has expanded the project, with Papua New Guinea agreeing to take nearly 800 additional asylum seekers.

Mr. Ruddock said he expects further details of the program's cost will be revealed after the release of the May budget.

"The cost of Pacific Solution is an ongoing cost. If you are asking the question as to whether or not there are additional costs as time goes on associated with the management of the people who are detained, of course there will be additional costs, but that doesn't mean there's been a blow out."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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