Asylum Centres To Shut

May 10, 2006: Asylum Centres To Shut

Asylum centres to shut
Nicolette Burke

Local immigration detention centres will be closed and plans to build new ones will be shelved, following the Government's new policy of processing boat people overseas.

Detention centres at Woomera in South Australia and Singleton in the NSW Hunter Valley will be shut down, and the land handed back to the landlord, the Defence Department.

And proposed detention centres in Brisbane and Melbourne, which caused community and state government outrage, will not go ahead.

Instead, offshore facilities on Nauru will be put on red alert, to coincide with an influx of boat people from the troubled West Papuan region.

The Budget announcement came ahead of legislation due to be introduced into Parliament this week to force asylum seekers to be processed at offshore detention centres — including Nauru, Christmas Island and Manus Island — even if they land on the Australian mainland.

This would prevent them being guaranteed the rights of appeal and legal assistance available to people on the Australian mainland.

Closing the detention centres will save taxpayers $78 million over four years, said Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone.

Some of these savings will be spent on a new kitchen and medical centre at Baxter detention centre in SA, and completing a detention centre in Darwin to house the burgeoning problem of illegal foreign fishers in northern waters.

Smaller, temporary facilities will be opened in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide for people who are at low risk of escape, before they are deported.

Half a billion dollars will be spent over four years to upgrade the Immigration Department's IT system.