Public still paying high cost of Medevac program

FORTY-five asylum seekers who doctors declared were in need of urgent medical care are in a four-star, city hotel costing Australian taxpayers more than $410,000 a week.

Most of the asylum seekers, sent from Nauru and PNG under Labor's Medevac laws for medical treatment, never went to hospital. Some have refused care, even though a makeshift GP clinic has been set up especially for them in the hotel.

The bill for those at Melbourne's Mantra Bell City can be exclusively revealed by The Courier-Mail, but the cost would be dwarfed for all of the 184 Medevaced asylum seekers who are in Australia.

The weekly cost breakdown includes $40,000 for accommodation, including three-prepared meals a day, $280,000 for 24/7 security onsite, and $90,000 for transporting them to an immigration centre for an hour's exercise. They can also use the hotel's gym.

The GP clinic provides their vaccinations, pathology tests, mental health support and general wellbeing.

The end cost for taxpayers is uncertain because under the laws there was no explicit ability to return them to Nauru, where they can apply for a 20-year visa or resettle in PNG.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said while Medevac was repealed by the Federal Government, the cost of the policy was still being picked up by taxpayers.

The Medevac legislation was panned by security agencies, who warned those with security concerns would enter the country.

"Most of these people never went to hospital," Mr Dutton said. "Many refused to have any scans and now it's costing us millions of dollars a month.

"This is all thanks to the Labor con that was Medevac.

"It's money we should be spending on pensioners and police, and instead Labor has locked us in to wasting millions of dollars."

The 184 asylum seekers are scattered throughout the country and the total cost of supporting those could not be ascertained yesterday.



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