Greens Senator and spokesperson for overseas aid Lee Rhiannon asked questions without notice to Foreign Minister Bob Carr yesterday in the Senate as to whether aid money will be spent on building, staffing or maintaining detention facilities on Nauru or Manus Islands. Full Hansard here. Mr Carr would not rule this out. Coverage in Sydney Morning Herald today.
Controversially the Howard government used aid money to implement the 'Pacific Solution'. The exact amount remains unknown but it is widely understood that some aid money went to building and maintaining detention facilities in Nauru and PNG.
While in Opposition Labor Shadow Minister for International Development Assistance Bob McMullan heavily criticised the Howard government for spending $27 million in aid money on detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has estimated that the total cost for reopening Nauru detention centre over the forward estimates would be around $2 billion and around $900 million for Papua New Guinea's Manus Island. In a tight federal budget there may be a temptation to dip into the aid budget and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) regularly counts money spent as 'ODA eligible'.