‘Surge Capacity’ Plan For 1600 Asylum Seekers

'Surge capacity' plan for 1600 asylum seekers

The ABC News (Australia), October 14, 2009

The Department of Immigration has confirmed 81 demountables are being transported from Alice Springs to Christmas Island to accommodate an extra 200 asylum seekers at the island's detention centre.

Over the past six weeks, almost 700 asylum seekers have been intercepted in Australian waters and ferried to the Christmas Island Detention Centre.

The Federal Government has this week installed an extra 200 bunk beds on the island to push the centre's capacity to about 1400.

Earlier today, the Opposition's Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion said demountables previously used at the Woomera and Baxter detention centres were being sent to the island to boost capacity.

He said the demountables are currently located near Alice Springs, where they were placed in 2007 as part of a plan to provide emergency accommodation to Aboriginal visitors to the town.

This afternoon, the department confirmed Mr Scullion's claims.

'The department has acquired 81 demountable units from FaHCSIA which FaHCSIA has deemed to be surplus to requirements,' a Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman said.

'The units are located south of Alice Springs and are now in the process of being transferred to Darwin for shipping to Christmas Island as additional accommodation for irregular maritime arrivals.'

The spokesman says the department plans to get the demountables to the island by the end of the year.

'The units provide administration, recreational and accommodation areas with a surge capacity for up to 200 people.'

The demountables will increase the capacity of the centre to about 1600.