More than 2,800 Afghans have received payments totalling $207,000 as Australian compensation for “collateral damage to property, injury or loss of life” during military operations in their country.
New figures compiled by the Department of Defence reveal the extent of an Australian government payment scheme since it began in mid-2009.
Under the so-called , the government can compensate local people for incidents that occur during the Australian defence force’s overseas operations without admitting legal liability.
The department said there had been 2,836 individual payments in totalling $206,937, or an average of $73 an incident.
It said there had been a single $1,619 payment in Iraq, which related to an incident that occurred during Operation Kruger which provided security to Australian government officials in and ended in 2011.
There was no mention of any compensation payments related to the ADF’s current operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Defence compiled the figures in response to a question it took on notice during the last round of Senate estimates hearings. The independent Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie sought assurances that the scheme was “not funding the enemy”.
The chief of the ADF, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, said the payments were not given to a group. “It is given to a particular family in the way it is done,” he said. “No, I do not believe that it goes through to funding terrorism.”
In a written answer containing the figures, the department said it was up to the defence minister or a delegate to decide whether the alleged loss, damage or injury could reasonably be viewed as having directly resulted from an ADF activity.
“The disclosure of specific details of individual payments made under the [scheme], such as category of loss, details of incident, date of incident, payment approval and payment made, are not made public due to operational sensitivity and privacy requirements,” it said.
Guardian Australia has asked the department for details of any payments relating to civilian deaths, but it did not respond by publication deadline.
Incidents that have previously been disclosed include during a , and the who was .