Christ­mas Is­land sit­u­a­tion tense

Townsville Bulletin - - National Snapshot -

THE sit­u­a­tion at the Christ­mas Is­land im­mi­gra­tion de­ten­tion cen­tre has been de­scribed as dif­fi­cult but not out of con­trol.

Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Chris Bowen warned the pro­test­ers that their ac­tions would not achieve the de­sired re­sult and it only slowed pro­cess­ing and made life more dif­fi­cult for other asy­lum seek­ers.

He said there had been a se­ri­ous in­ci­dent two nights ago when Im­mi­gra­tion Depart­ment of­fi­cials and em­ploy­ees of the com­pany Serco call in Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice who used tear gas against pro­test­ers.

Asked if the gov­ern­ment had lost con­trol of the de­ten­tion cen­tre, he said he didn’t think so.

‘‘ Clearly we have a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion with on­go­ing ten­sion but it is be­ing man­aged,’’ he said. Mr Bowen said AFP were highly trained and ex­pe­ri­enced i n man­ag­ing t hese s orts of events.

Mr Bowen said the un­rest stemmed from the de­ci­sion to place 10 ring­leaders into cells at the de­ten­tion cen­tre, with oth­ers seek­ing to free them.

He said some of those protest­ing had had their asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions re­jected, while oth­ers were con­cerned that pro­cess­ing was tak­ing too long.

‘‘ Last year, I fore­shad­owed that we were likely to see more protest ac­tion, as our refugee recog­ni­tion rates were fall­ing, as we were say­ing to more peo­ple ‘ sorry you are not a gen­uine refugee, you will need to re­turn’,’’ he said.

Mr Bowen said an ex­tra 57 po­lice had gone to the is­land, tak­ing the AFP con­tin­gent to more than 80.

He said the AFP had as­sured him they had enough po­lice to han­dle the sit­u­a­tion.

As well, more than 60 ex­tra Serco staff were on the is­land.

Mr Bowen said he had been ad­vised that ‘‘ the vast ma­jor­ity if not all de­tainees’’ were back in the de­ten­tion cen­tre.

Chris Bowen

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.