No Problem With Nauru Contracts

No problem with Nauru contracts: Burke

The Age (Melbourne)
May 29, 2007 – 7:29AM

Federal Labor has refused to criticise the NSW government for profiting from the provision of health and building services to asylum seekers held on Nauru.

Despite Labor's opposition to the offshore processing of asylum seekers, a NSW government company received $200,000 for providing services that helped the federal government detain people on Nauru during 2005 and 2006, Fairfax has reported.

Major shareholders of the company, Aus Health International, were listed as the then health minister (and now Premier) Morris Iemma and Treasurer Michael Costa.

Federal Labor's immigration spokesman Tony Burke has rejected suggestions of double standards, saying there was no problem with the NSW government's Nauru contracts.

“One of federal Labor's criticisms of the Pacific solution has been the mental health consequences of detaining people on Nauru,” Mr Burke said.

“Aus Health accepted a contract to provide mental health services to detainees.

“There is a big difference between supporting a policy and supplying health services.”

Earlier, Australian Greens senator Kerry Nettle called on the NSW government to cancel its contracts for the provision of services on Nauru and donate any profits to refugee charities.

Senator Nettle accused the NSW Labor government of being complicit in the Pacific solution by profiting from the detention of refugees.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma says he is not aware his government is profiting from the provision of services to Nauru.

“It's a group that undertakes what are international activities to assist people in the health area, particularly countries that don't have that sort of health care and access to the professionals that we have,” he said.

Mr Iemma denied he was embarrassed by the report.

2007 AAP