Sunday, 5 June 2011

Too much money spent on refugees?

We've all heard it before:


The above is a classic cry of someone who’s not once looked into how the Australian government spends their “hard earned” dollars, and instead has formed an impulsive opinion based entirely on anecdotal evidence comprised of a few 15 second video clips from the news and what they read in newspapers that are owned by the same company that produce the news on TV.
Didn’t our schools used to teach us how to think critically and analyse all available information before drawing conclusions?

It’s a shame that most people who are guilty of saying, or thinking something along the lines of the  above, won’t have the patience to read past the next sentence and absorb some legitimate information with which to base their opinions on. 

All one must do to overcome the myth that we are spending too much money on refugees and not enough in our own backyard, is to actually look at the budget itself. Most people will be quite surprised.

Let’s take a look at the Australian Budget for 2010/2011. And FYI, the Aussie budget is readily available to the public online and all you need to do is Google “Australian Budget for 2010/2011” to find it. Relevant links used to source this data are referenced at the bottom.

Now, below is how the government is spending your money in 2010/2011…


TOTAL AGGREGATE EXPENDITURE on everything and anything:  $354.6 BILLION
This is the total amount of out going cash. The “final” figure on how much money is spent in one year.


This is the “looking after our own” expenditure. This accounts for 32.5% of the entire spending.

HOMELESSNESS expenditure: $4.9 BILLION
The current investment in the "White Paper" scheme. This accounts for 1.5% of the entire spending.


AGED CARE approxmate expenditure: $883.7 million
The above figure is the sum of various (though not all) “Aged Care” initiatives throughout the budget. $36.8m of this is a capital measure, not an expenditure, though in this context they are much the same. This accounts for 0.25% of the total aggregate expenditure.


AUSTRALIAN SPORTS expenditure: $324.8 million
This money is granted to the Australian Sports Commission. This accounts for 0.092% of the entire spending. 


143 million of that goes towards expanding the detention centres to stop the over crowding. $22 million of that goes towards improving basic amenities (toilets, showers, etc). This isn’t covering the cost of a white picket fence, it’s a cost to provide them with basic human rights while they are being detained and processed.

After having had a look at these figures taken directly from the 2010/2011 Australia budget, it does make you wonder what the hell these people are talking about when they whinge about how much we spend on refugees vs ourselves.

 Graphical representation of expenditure levels for different areas of the Australian 2010/2011 Budget

As you can see from the above graph, what we spend on detention centres is just over half of what we spend on sports!!

Detention Centre spending accounts for 0.057% of the total aggregate expenditure. Keep in mind that this is not 5.70% (~6 out of every hundred), it is 0.057% (~6 out of every TEN THOUSAND)... a tiny fraction compared to the 32.5% (~32 out of every HUNDRED) spent on our own backyards welfare. 

A little exercise and something to think about:
The government currently commits 1.5% of its expenditure towards homelessness.
The average Australian worker earns $68,900 per annum. 1.5% of this income is $1033. And yet the same people who complain that the government doesn't spend enough on the homeless, are the same people who wont even put a $2 coin into the cup of the homeless guy sleeping on a park bench in plain view of the city. $2 is a mere 0.003% of their annual income, btw).

As mentioned above, the amount spent on Refugees is a tiny fraction of what we spend in our own back yard. In fact, it is almost 600 times smaller amount than what we spend in our own back yard.

Comparatively, the average human (standing at 1.6m tall) is about 500 times smaller than the world’s tallest building, The Burj Khalifa in Dubai which stands at 828m. Let’s take a look at the Burj Khalifa…

 Now imagine a human standing next to it. For those of you that live in Perth, Western Australia - its the same ratio as if you vertically stacked FOUR Bankwest towers on top of each other then stood next to it. This is the same ratio of our budget that we spend on Refugees and Detention Centres vs The Welfare and Social Security of the Australian people.

 “What else is spent on the asylum seekers? I heard we spend around 2 billion on them!”

Not quite. 

Australia has allocated $1.2 billion towards border control & security – 63% of which is spent on airport security, not “boat people”. The rest goes towards helping Indonesia combat people-smuggling activities, a new and improved passport system for Australia, 8 patrol vessels, among other things.

It is also true that Australia has allocated $2.2 billion towards Australia’s Immigrant and Citizenship operations. This is for people with working holiday visas, etc who migrate from the UK, Europe, USA etc. Only a small percentage ($87 million – 0.024% of total budget expenditure) goes towards housing & integrating the legitimate refugees who have been screened, processed and granted asylum in Australia (and this is for the most part, refugees who have gone through the correct channels and not arrived by boat).

Keep in mind that this money is also spent on processing and screening these people to make sure they are legitimate refugees, and that they don’t bring with them any diseases like AIDS or TB. If we cut spending on these processes, it only increases the flow of illegal asylum seekers and increases the chance of people who pose a risk to Australian society getting in.

Either we maintain spending and continue to screen the people who come into Australia, or we cut spending and we let people that could cause us harm into our country. You can't have your cake and eat it too!

 Now it's unfortunate that a large proportion of those people who throw up uninformed facebook statuses (like the one at the beginning of this article) will not have read this far. It's also unfortunate out of those that DID read this far, are still trying to find a way in the back of their minds to dislike the idea of refugees / asylum seekers coming to Australia. But they'll still tell you they're not racist. 

A lot of people think racism has to be overt and 'in your face' white hoods etc etc - but its an underlying problem prevalent in Australian society today, and when people dont know where or how to find the correct raw information, or simply cant be bothered looking any further than the mainstream news that bundles it into a 30 minute soap highlight - then its no wonder people bare a grudge against refugees. Might be a time for them to take a look at themselves. If they're not racist like they like to say they arent, lets hope next time they are presented with a 5 second film clip of some angry minority protesting inside a detention centre, they ask themselves things like "What would cause them to revolt in such a way?" as opposed to "Why should we be helping these people??"

I don't ever hear people complaining about the Australian Sports industry getting priority over the eldery or the homeless, because it certainly gets priority over the refugees.

The well-cultivated critical thinker:
Richard Linden and Linda Elder, 2008

  • raises vital questions and problems,formulating them clearly and precisely;
  • gathers and assesses relevant information;
  • carefully interprets information to form well-reasoned conclusions;
  • tests conclusions,evaluating against relevant criteria;
  • thinks open-mindedly,avoiding the influence of untested or irrational concepts and beliefs;and
  • communicates effectively with others,particularly in the development and testing of conclusions or solutions.

Australian 2010/2011 Budget Aggregates:

Australian 2010/2011 Taxation & Spending pie charts:

Australian 2010/2011 Spending on Sports & Aged Care:

Information on Australia's investment in improving homelessness:


  1. Fascinating. it looks like there's idiots blowing immigration out of proportion in many countries...
    Are any politicians doing the fact-free "I will not put immigrants before our good citizens" routine yet?

  2. It so fascinating to me that Australia is having a similar issue as the States in this respect. So many people think that tons of money is being spent when it comes to asylum seekers, and those being deported. However, it seems that the Australian government is more transparent than the American government. It's a little more difficult to find the statistics for us, but I know that we don't spend nearly as much money on deporting undocumented workers as we do on National Security. Shame.

    1. I would like to know how much Uncle Sam has spent on blowing the hell out of these people's home countries.

  3. Haha not yet. But our good friend Pauline Hanson (Daywalker slash Fish'n'Chip Shop owner turned Politician) has the entire front page of her website dedicated to an extended version of the opening quote used in this article :-\

  4. Very insightful, completely agree with you about critical thinking. Too many people don't think for themselves and accept facts that they want to agree with. It just creates more problems, it's incredible how far a little knowledge can go compared to...none.

  5. A lot of good points there. I wish there were some sort of grouping of united nations that could collectively fund things like this. Why should it be Australia's burden to pay to house all of these foreigners who might not even lawfully belong there? Perhaps it could be a future attack strategy, send some of your country's billions of people over to dwindle the finances of your target nation before conquest.

  6. Looks like someone only read the first sentence in bold then skipped the rest. ^^

  7. all those poor suffering people wanting to have a better life

  8. poor people, i wish i had alot of money so i could help them all :/.

  9. Some problem is happening in america, overpopulation and failure to help their own citizens is what leads to the regugees anyway.

  10. Thats not a good situation.

  11. I find these things a somewhat controversial topic. Everyone has their own opinions of what should get prioritised funding, and what should be at the bottom (and it differs with each country).

  12. Well the tax money gets wasted on much much much crap.

  13. Nice analysis of the problem, I didn't know that Australia spent that much money !

  14. Holy sh*t this is a lot of cash :X well aslong they are used for good cause its okey :)

  15. Wow dude, you sure spend a lot of time on this. Nice reading!

  16. Now that was an interesting read. You know your facts well and I agree, too many people blindly believe what they're told instead of thinking for themselves.

  17. Interesting. I have to say my country doesn't have that kind of problems: almost at all. I guess that it isn't refugees' destination.

  18. OH it's SOOOO refreshing to read something objective and well considered!

  19. Here, goverment's taxes are so high that they dont have to consider where to invest money, there is shit load of money already.

  20. Responsible spending on the government's part is important, and I'm sure the people in charge have the information to make sure money goes where it is most needed.

  21. So true! Very well backed up with reliable date too! Keep up the good work!

  22. Hmm America is the lando f milk and honey afterall

    I see that refugees see it as such and in a way exploit what American laws have stood for since the formation of the Constitution.

    In terms of spending money on refugees hasn't America always been doing that?

    Look at international food aid given in the form of currency every year.

  23. Lots of good facts. But if money doesn't go here, it goes to some other "great" cause.

  24. love your blog, man! good stuff... followed!

  25. Im with this post with 100% of my heart!!!
    Nicely done sir.

  26. Great points, and I love how you backed up your information with actual sources and graphs. Too bad most people who write about this stuff don't :(

  27. That was a good read thanks for the informative post. Keep up the good work.

  28. That was a great post. Have to blame the media for things like this, they overhype certain things to detract attention from real issues.

    Amazing how little the government actually spends on things that people think are such big issues.

    Great blog mate

  29. People often generalize issues without looking at all the angles. I get it though, seeing elderly without shelter on the city but the government aren't turning their backs on their own citizen.

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  31. What you conveniently choose to ignore is the ongoing, costs associated with refugees and the fact that this cost will balloon significantly at the current rates of boat arrivals.I also think the cost is very significant being almost a quarter of what we spend on aged care !In five years unless there are changes to our current policy it may exceed some of these critical expenditures.If you think thats a good thing then we will have to agree to disagree.Offshore processing and temporary protection Visas must be restored to prevent a future budget blow out in refugee spending and to ensure our essential services and domestic economy aren't adversly affected in years to come. Please don't call me a racist....just a realist!

  32. I am trying to put another perspective on looking at this issue, and work out a per capita figure for aussie expenditure on refugees. Part of the welfare expenditure would be for those refugees who have been granted asylum, on top of the $202m. I dont yet know what other costs would be involved, (legal, medical, etc). I am currently trying to find out how many refugees arrived in that 2011-2012 year. A per capita figure would allow some interesting comparisons to be made by people on both sides of the debate. Some more up to date figures would help. Other interesting figures would be how many refugees arrive by other means, and how much did Australia spend in our share of blowing the hell out of the places most of these people come from, (that would exclude Sri Lankans and some others I guess)
    Any data would be appreciated. If presented in the right manner, I think most Aussies would accept that these people are probably no more of a problem than the Vietnamese were years back,and that certainly turned into a win/win situation.

  33. More on refugees. Spent days trawling dozens of sites to get some average figures for Australia. Rough but workable.
    Total budget expenditure...$354bn
    Total on social security and welfare...$115bn
    Total welfare recipients...4.5mn
    Total on detention centres...$202mn
    Total in detention centres...6,000
    Approximate calculations...
    Average per person on welfare...$25000 per year
    Average per refugee in detention...$34000 per year
    Welfare spending does not include medicare, education or housing, which would probably make those two last figures fairly similar. So we spend (ON AVERAGE) about the same on each refugee as we do on any other recipient of government assistance. and about one in every 750 of these recipients is an asylum seeker.
    What the fuck is all the brouhaha about?