The newly opened Wickham Point detention centre is an expensive bandaid solution that could be full within a month, according to Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion and the Federal Member for Solomon Natasha Griggs.
“With the rate of illegal boat arrivals increasing since the Gillard Government bowed to the Greens on onshore processing the first 500 person compound, which will take its first asylum seekers from tomorrow, will quickly fill up,” Senator Scullion said.
“Over 4000 asylum seekers have arrived this year, and two boat arrivals this week (with 220 people aboard) show things are only getting worse.”
“Almost 600 asylum seekers have arrived in the few weeks since the collapse of the people swap deal with Malaysia, and even taking away the 100 each month going out into the community on bridging visas, this new compound will only provide four weeks of relief before it is bursting at the seams,” Senator Scullion said.
Senator Scullion and Mrs Griggs toured the facility yesterday ahead of the centre’s first expected arrivals tomorrow. Centre management has confirmed about 220 asylum seekers will be transferred from Christmas Island to the centre by the weekend.
“The first detainees of single men will flood through this detention centre on Thursday and this sends a clear message that the Government’s immigration network is indeed in crisis, the system is out of control,” Mrs Griggs said.
“109 boats have now arrived since the last election and that equates to more than 6570 people.
“We’ve since learnt of new speculation that the numbers of asylum seekers ready to make the boat journey are rising, despite the monsoon season. Still Labor refuses to adopt proven Coalition policies to stop the boats,” Mrs Griggs said.
Senator Scullion agreed saying Labor had no idea on one of its most vital roles – controlling our borders.
“The buildings and level of amenities is second to none with good medical and entertainment precincts but it won’t stop the boats.
“The $200million cost* of this facility is an expensive bandaid that will only be a short term gap measure that shows the Gillard government is clueless on protecting our country’s borders ,” Senator Scullion said.
“After failing first with East Timor, then Manus Island and the Malaysian swap deal, Julia Gillard embraced the Greens’ onshore processing and the boats have kept coming while this inept government has flailed from one disastrous policy to another.
“This new Wickham Point detention centre won’t keep up with arrivals and the 100 people being released into the community on bridging visas each month is putting more pressure on strained community services such as Anglicare who have to help these people who can’t get welfare payments,” Senator Scullion said.
* $200million on contacts to build, lease and manage the facility over three years as per government tender details in NT news on 08/11/11 and ABC news on 05/11/11.
Download media release:
Wickham Point detention centre could be full within a month.pdf