Anti-boat people ads cost Australia $20m in one year

asylum boat posterAdvertising campaigns in the past year to stop refugees seeking protection in Australia have cost taxpayers nearly $23 million. The sum, released by the Australian Audit Office in response to questions asked in Senate estimates, covers spending by the Immigration and Customs departments between July 2013 and August 2014, Fairfax Media reports. The money was spent under both the current Coalition government, which came to power last September, and the previous Labor government.

The ad campaigns appeared on television, radio, online and in leaflet drops in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka and Sudan, according to the advertising agency commissioned to create them, TBWA/TAL.

The campaigns had names such as No way. You will not make Australia home and Don’t throw your money into water, which urged would-be asylum seekers not to pay people smugglers for dangerous sea journeys.

One of the campaigns included a YouTube video featuring Lieutenant General Angus Campbell. Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said: “Spending taxpayer money on a self-promoting fear campaign like this is obscene.”

She said the money should have been spent on a “genuine regional framework, based on increased refugee processing and resettlement”. (

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