New Matilda has gained exclusive access to the first publicly available version of the 2009 Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) contract with British multinational Serco.
The contract was obtained through a Freedom of Information request and reveals the most comprehensive information yet about the running of Australian detention centres.
New Matilda's analysis of the document reveals that:
The first 80 pages of the contract can be downloaded here. Links to the remaining sections can be found at the end of this article.
Other issues of note include:
According to a letter from DIAC's FOI officer, Serco objects to DIAC's decision to release some parts of this contract and has exercised its rights under FOI law to block access to those sections in the document marked "s27 consultation".
However, New Matilda has also obtained a leaked copy of the contract in which some of these blocked sections are visible.
This version of the contract has not been officially released, and reveals:
The fact that this contract has only been released now, more than two years after it was signed, reflects how closely guarded the agreement between Serco and the Federal Government remains.
Last week, Serco's Australian CEO Bob McGuiness told Perth Now that he was "gobsmacked" to hear Serco described as a "secretive organisation" in the media. "I find that astonishing," he said.
In fact, the contract prohibits Serco employees from speaking to the media at all. It reads:
"The Service Provider must not, and will ensure that its officers, employees, directors, contractors and agents do not:
Make any public statement;
Release any information to, make any statement to, deal with any inquiry from or otherwise advise the media;
Publish distribute or otherwise make available any information or material to third parties."
The hypocrisy of McGuiness's comments is also remarkable in light of Serco's attempts to block access to information that the DIAC FOI decision maker has argued should be public.
The Labor government and DIAC agreed to the terms of this contract. By privatising immigration detention centres, successive Australian governments have kept these issues out of sight and out of mind, under the pretence of information being "commercial-in-confidence". Bureaucratic buck-passing ensures little firm information is ever released.
Many parts of the contract have still not been released on the decision of DIAC's FOI officer — including the names of the Serco directors who manage relations with DIAC and run detention centres.
Links to Serco contract (FOI version)
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