Detention Centres in Australia

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In March 2011 there are now 6,659 people being held in Australian detention centres, and an announcement has been made that another 1,500 bed facility will be created in Darwin to house the numerous more that are being invited here by our current policies. (that last bit was my twist on the wording)


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Immigration Minister Chris Bowen stated: “The 1,500-bed facility at Wickham Point will provide detention accommodation for single adult men, with a required capital cost of $9.2 million as opposed to the estimated $185 million required to develop the 11 Mile site,”

2,901 out of those 6,659 asylum seekers have arrived since the last Australian Federal Election in 2010, in which the current Prime Minister stated that she would “stop the boats”.

Politics has of course always been at the centre of this, and it is no different today. When Labor took office in 2007 there were only 4 boat arrival people in detention, with the Liberal policies of the day effectively stopping the boat people arriving.

Why did these policies seem to work ?

  • Did the fact that all the boat people arrivals ended up in Nauru, stop them from even starting the trip ?
  • Was it a case that there were no more refugees actually wanting to leave anywhere ?

What was the answer ?

The current Prime Minister Julia Gillard once pointed out: “each boat arrival was a policy failure“.
Wait for the next election, and see how many failures the Opposition count against the current government for this.


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Boat people arrivals 1999-2011

Financial Year Boat people Arrivals
1999–00 4,175
2000–01 4,137
2001–02 3,039
2002–03
2003–04 82
2004–05
2005–06 61
2006–07 133
2007–08 25
2008–09 1,033
2009–10 5,609
2010–11 3,265 for the first 6 months only

The Christmas Island Detention centre:

The Christmas Island detention centre was built and finished during the last period of Liberal government, whilst closing down the onshore detention centres at Baxter, Woomera and Curtin.

Due to the very small numbers of boat arrivals though, this facility was not opened by that government.

The Labor government opened the Christmas Island detention centre for the first time in 2008, according to this article: www.abc.net.au/…/2450749.htm. On reading this article, I was caught by comments from the Human Rights Commissioner Graeme Innes, who said about Christmas Island: “No arrivals should be housed there. “It’s bleak, it’s forbidding, it’s a long way from the rest of the community on Christmas Island and it’s a very unwelcoming place.”

I can’t help but wonder, but wasn’t that the intention for the place? Would he have preffered a holiday camp ?


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