Wednesday, 14 June 2017
Media release

Labor's border bill ticks toward $14 billion

To date Australian taxpayers have paid more than $13.7 billion to clean up Labor's loss of control of our borders.

Today another $90 million was added to that bill with the settlement of the Manus class action.

The settlement provides $70 million for the plaintiffs while No Win-No-Fee law firm Slater and Gordon will pocket an estimated $20 million in costs.

Labor imposed this cost on Australians when it handed control of the nation's borders to criminal people-smuggling syndicates.

The Commonwealth is required by the Legal Services Directions to endeavour to avoid, prevent or limit the scope of legal proceedings.

Decisions on how to resolve legal matters are made on a case-by-case basis informed by legal advice and considered against the costs of lengthy trials and other factors.

An anticipated six month legal battle for this case would have cost tens of millions of dollars in legal fees alone, with an unknown outcome. In such circumstances a settlement was considered a prudent outcome for Australian taxpayers.

The Commonwealth strongly refutes and denies the claims made in these proceedings.

Settlement is not an admission of liability in any regard. 

The settlement is still subject to approval by the Supreme Court of Victoria. As such, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the specifics of the matter.

Sadly, due to Labor's failed border policies, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) is the most litigated department of the Commonwealth.

Currently there is a caseload of almost 5,800 legal matters afoot. DIBP's legal expenditure in 2015-16 totalled more than $72 million.

We must never forget why people are on Manus Island and Nauru: Labor lost control of our borders and put them there.

There were four people in detention when Labor came to government in 2007. They were all in Australia and none were children.

Apart from those in the Regional Processing Centres of Manus and Nauru, Labor left 30,000 illegal arrivals onshore, including 8,000 children in detention.

The Labor Party must come out and again apologise to the Australian people for their failure at the border.

The Coalition's resolve to keep our borders secure through Operation Sovereign Borders and to halt all illegal maritime arrivals remains firm.

None of the illegal maritime arrivals on Manus Island or in Nauru will ever be settled in Australia.