Building the path for more to come - New detention centres for asylum seekers to be built
Asylum seekers in the new section of the Immigration Detention Centre, Christmas Island. Picture: Colin Murty Source: News Limited
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has announced a new "long-term" strategy for dealing with asylum seekers, including releasing children from detention.
The announcement delivers on a commitment to balance the Government's policy of mandatory detention of unauthorised arrivals with the humane treatment of those fleeing persecution, Ms Gillard said.
The Government will also open two new detention facilities to cater for up to 1500 men and prepare two other sites as a contingency measure. Other sites that have been used as temporary accommodation will be either decommissioned or their use reduced, including on Christmas Island where tents have been used to house asylum seekers.
A site near Darwin will be prepared as precaution to take overflow while the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre will also be expanded as part of a contingency plan.
As previously outlined, the Darwin Airport Lodge also will be expanded to enable accommodation for 400.
The Northam site, consisting of three self-contained compounds about 80 kilometres north-east of Perth, would accommodate up to 1500 single adult males by June next year.
Should further space be needed, the Government had a contingency site at the 11 Mile Antenna Farm outside Darwin.
The Inverbrackie facility, near the Woodside Army Barracks, 37 kilometres north of Adelaide, would accommodate up 400 people in family groups.
If further room for families was needed, the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation at Broadmeadows would be expanded.
Mr Bowen said it was the Government's hope that the churches and other organisations involved in potentially housing some of the refugees would not be building new facilities.
"In our discussions with churches and charities we will be ensuring wherever possible that existing facilities are used which are not currently being utilised."
On the way refugees would be kept under control when living in the community, Mr Bowen suggested he would use his powers to issue curfews.
The groups involved in housing the asylum seekers would also need to remain in close communication with the Government.
'Greens not consulted'
Ms Gillard denied the decision had been made in consultation with the Australian Greens as some reports suggested over the weekend.
"The decisions have been made by the Government and the Government alone," she said.
Part of her announcement was reported on Saturday by the West Australian newspaper.