Chris Evans And Entourage Add To Christmas Island’s Crowding

Chris Evans and entourage add to Christmas Island's crowding

By Paige Taylor
The Australian, April 23, 2010

Christmas Island got a little more crowded yesterday with the arrival of Immigration Minister Chris Evans and his entourage of advisers and minders as his department prepared to move more detainees to the mainland today.

The island remained over capacity as Senator Evans arrived on the Australian territory for a whistlestop visit, despite the removal of 367 men to detention in Darwin and Sydney's Villawood and 70 teenagers to Port Augusta since March 27.

But the spill has created some relief that the island is just 21 people above its official capacity of 2040, compared with more than 300 over capacity in recent weeks.

A compound expected to hold 400 detainees is close to completion.

Crowding on the island has created unexpected problems outside the detention centre with the influx of detention centre and associated workers creating an accommodation crisis, price rises and strain on the island's wastewater treatment plant, which is being upgraded at a cost of $25 million.

Also yesterday, Senator Evans visited the mothballed Curtin detention centre, north of Port Hedland, where he intends to detain single adult asylum-seekers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka who arrive after the government's April 9 announcement of a suspension of claims by Afghans and Sri Lankans.

The Australian understands that, so far, only three Afghans have arrived who are subject to the six-month suspension and two are a married couple.

Today the minister and his delegation are scheduled to go to the island's immigration detention centre, which holds 1469 men.