Reconsider Christmas Island Detention: Greens

Reconsider Christmas Island detention: Greens

The Independent Weekly
27/04/2009 8:08:00 AM

The Greens have urged the Federal Government to re-think its policy of transporting all offshore arrivals to detention facilities on Christmas Island, as another group of intercepted asylum seekers have embarked on a four-day voyage to the remote outpost, 1610km from the Australian mainland.

A boat carrying 54 presumed asylum seekers and two crew members was intercepted by HMAS Albany on Saturday south-west of Ashmore Island.

The Navy say it will take four days to transport the people to Christmas Island, where claims for asylum will be processed and checks carried out.

Once again we are seeing the absurd practice of asylum seekers being transported thousands of kilometres back out to sea to Christmas Island, said Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Yesterdays intercepted boat was met by the Navy near Ashmore Reef, which is 365km from the mainland, and 660km from Broome. To send asylum seekers to a remote island in the opposite direction, more than 1600km from the mainland, just does not make sense. In light of the financial challenges Australia is currently facing, the use of Christmas Island as a detention facility – and the transportation costs that involves is not economically wise. The extremely remote nature of Christmas Island, and the lack of community support and public scrutiny that means for the asylum seekers also makes it an inhumane choice, as has pointed out by humanitarian organisations, including the United Nations. The long journey required to reach the island makes it potentially dangerous too. The Greens call on the Federal Government to reveal in the May Budget a more economical, efficient and humane way of processing claims and carrying out checks on all asylum seekers on the Australian mainland, Senator Hanson-Young said.