Serco, we have a problem

Yet more evidence that the British multinational Serco, running Australia’s detention centres, simply aren’t up to the task. But don’t expect the government to do anything about it any time soon. They need somebody, anybody, to take the blame for its dysfunctional refugee policies (via The Age):

The multinational company that runs Australia’s immigration detention network has been fined $15 million for failing in its duty of care to asylum seekers and underperformance .

The immigration department has told a federal parliamentary inquiry it had docked $14.8 million from monthly payments to SERCO between March 2010 and June 2011 because of poor management of the detention centres, and docked another $215,000 from SERCO’s contract to run immigration housing centres.

SERCO was paid $375 million to run immigration centres last year, and $101 million in the three months to October 2011.

The secretive contract the federal government signed with SERCO withholds payment for audited ”abatements” each month. Escapes, failure to secure perimeter fences, not providing activities or reporting major incidents, not giving access to visitors, interpreters or legal representatives, poor building conditions and food safety can trigger fee reductions.

The penalty is limited by the contract to 5 per cent of SERCO’s monthly fee. The $15 million fine, revealed in written submissions to the inquiry, is therefore near the upper limit of what the Immigration Department would have been contractually able to penalise SERCO in a period plagued by riots, fires, suicides and escalating detainee self harm.

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