Julia uses the F-word

By DeusExMacintosh

THE Christmas Island detention centre will be significantly scaled down as a result of last week’s violent protests, as the government continues to be lashed by local residents who say they warned of the consequences of overcrowding at the facility.

The Australian Federal Police finally reasserted control over the fire-ravaged centre at the weekend after seven days of brutal riots, flying in reinforcements from the operational response group as well as a dog to patrol the camp’s perimeter.

Two RAAF Hercules delivered more teargas, ammunition and about 80 police to the island over the weekend, bringing the number of AFP officers to nearly 200, in a show of force designed to make the last of the troublemakers at the detention centre back down. More reinforcements were due to arrive today. The Australian has been told the department wants to reduce the number of detainees on the island by about 1200 as soon as possible.

As the Immigration Department yesterday told island residents capacity at the facility would be downgraded, up to 20 asylum-seekers who escaped from the centre last week were still at large in the surrounding jungle. Locals had seen some of the escapees as well as what were believed to be their campsites. Police believe the escapees took water with them, and said there were robber crab carcasses at the campsite, indicating the escapees were surviving on the protected species, which is said to taste like lobster.

New figures obtained by The Australian show the average time for asylum-seekers spent in detention has almost tripled to 214 days since the Labor government suspended visa processing for Sri Lankan and Afghan arrivals last year. This has led to a bulge in the processing of asylum-seekers, mostly on riot-torn Christmas Island, with delays right through the system since the Rudd government announced illegal boat arrivals from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan would not be processed for refugee status for three and six months respectively, from April last year.

The violence at Christmas Island’s North West Point detention centre peaked late on Thursday when about 250 asylum-seekers, some with their faces covered, set buildings ablaze and threw makeshift explosives at police, who returned fire with teargas and “bean-bag” bullets. Immigration Department assistant secretary Fiona Andrew told a Christmas Island community meeting yesterday that several hundred asylum-seekers would be flown to the mainland in the coming week….

As of last night, there were 2791 asylum-seekers at the centre, which has a capacity limit of 2500. The government confirmed that the overcrowding had forced the latest boat arrival of 145 passengers to continue on to Darwin.

Julia Gillard yesterday reiterated the view of Mr Bowen that rioting would not help detainees get a quicker visa outcome.

“My message to anybody on Christmas Island would be that they cannot and will not profit from this violence. Indeed, there is a direct detriment to them,” the Prime Minister said on Sky News’s Australian Agenda.

The Australian

9 Comments

  1. Henry2
    Posted March 22, 2011 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Gday folks,

    As I understand it, both Nauru and Manos Island facilities are still both empty.
    Due to the massive increase in boats arriving through perillous seas, we have Christmas Island burstiing beyond breaking point, we have plans for new facilities and upgraded facilities in various places in NT and WA, and yet our government refuses to use these existing facilities. I cant see the logic.

    Regards,

    Frank

  2. Patrick
    Posted March 22, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Howard wins forever 🙂

  3. kvd
    Posted March 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Howard wins forever

    But ,unfortunately, not Bennelong.

    Henry2 I think it’s Manus Island. And apart from the basic need for Australia to resolve its own problems (just like a proper grown up country) rather than foist them onto somebody else, I cannot see the logic either.

    I just feel sorry for that solitary guard dog – maybe having to exist on crab meat – even if (as The Australian coyly states) it tastes like lobster.

  4. Posted March 22, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Difficult. Short of letting ’em drown… (which would NOT be my personal choice, just to be clear). What does NZ do?

  5. Posted March 23, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    The former NZ government, and maybe the current one, gave them the dole (with an onus to seek work and english classes if needed), helped them find a place to rent, and put them in contact with local support services.

    They figured it was cheaper than shipping water to Nauru, paying guards, legal actions, and, for politicians at least, unwelcome headlines.

  6. Patrick
    Posted March 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    What NZ does is be about 4500km further away

  7. Posted March 26, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Yet again, NZ hides behind its larger and geographically convenient neighbour.

    When one looks at the Oz v NZ, US v Canada, Eire v UK, we can see the smaller, geographically protected society being ostentatiously more “virtuous” in a whole lot of international issues because it gets a massive implicit subsidy from its larger, friendly, neighbour.

  8. kvd
    Posted March 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Lorenzo Eire v UK s/be UK v Eire to be consistent with your point? I accept what you say, except I don’t see NZ as being conspicuously virtuous. More simply thankful that they don’t have as much to do with Middle East refugees, as they do with Pacific Islanders.

  9. Posted March 28, 2011 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    [email protected], Yes, to be consistent UK should have been first.

    Possibly they are simply being pragmatically thankful in this case.

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