Huge bill for runaway athletes revealed
TAXPAYERS have already forked out $1.3 million to feed and house 220 overstaying Gold Coast Commonwealth Games coaches and athletes who have formally lodged legal action that will stop them being kicked out of Australia for years.
Australians will also be whacked with a gold-medal legal bill - currently sitting at $300,000 and likely to dramatically increase - to force about 200 of those overstayers to leave.
Most of them are from African nations.
Six months after the Games ended, 220 people have lodged protection visa applications to stay in Australia.
But 194 of those have been refused. Three applications were withdrawn and 23 are being considered.
Of those who were refused a protection visa, it can today be revealed 184 applied for a review of their case at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
It means they could remain in Australia for years on the taxpayer-funded legal merry-go-round.
Most of the overstayers are in a detention centre on the mainland or are in community detention, depending on where they are in Australia and their assessed security risk.
In detention they are given all their meals, accommodation and access to telephones.
News Queensland can also reveal that a statutory review of the AAT due today will now be handed to the Government on November 30, after former High Court justice Ian Callinan asked for an extension.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said an overly generous system meant hardworking taxpayers were footing the bill for those demanding to live in Australia.
"Six months on from the Commonwealth Games and we are still finalising applications for protection due to our judicial system - unfortunately this is due to our ridiculously generous review system,'' Mr Dutton said.
"People should have their day in court, but at the moment the way in which some members of the AAT are operating in many of these cases is a joke. To date this has cost the Australian taxpayer over $1.5 million and we are being taken for a ride.
"This is why the Government currently has commissioned a review of the AAT to look at ways to better address community standards because it is not right that these people are clogging up our judicial system."
The Government announced in July that it had appointed Mr Callinan to review the AAT.
At the time, Attorney-General Christian Porter said: "It … (is) a timely opportunity to ensure that the (AAT) is meeting its statutory objectives, in particular that it is promoting public trust and confidence through its decisions and that decisions reflect community expectations."
Mr Callinan's report to Government will find if the AAT is promoting timely and final resolution of matters; and whether its operations and efficiencies can be improved by new laws.
This year The Courier-Mail revealed federal courts had listed matters to hear asylum seeker appeals out to the year 2021.
A Federal Court spokesman said it was taking about four months for a case to be heard in the Federal Court and 10 months in the Federal Circuit Court.