Government Defends Christmas Island Expenses

Government defends Christmas Island expenses

The ABC News (Australia), June 15, 2010

The Federal Government has defended the rising costs of charter flights to Christmas Island, saying it is an inevitable outcome of increased boat arrivals.

It has been reported that $200,000 per week is being spent ferrying asylum seekers and Commonwealth staff to and from the detention centre on the island.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans has told Question Time the Government is committed to processing asylum seekers offshore.

But he says that makes it more expensive.

'It is true that the costs have gone up in accordance with those needs,' he said.

'And it is true that operating a detention centre on Christmas Island adds to your transport costs.

'Senator Minchin and the Howard cabinet built it there, and there's no doubt that the transport costs are higher as a result of where the detention centre is located.'

Senator Evans says overcrowding on Christmas Island means the Government will have to increase detention facilities on the mainland of Australia.

But he says the Government will not reopen the Baxter detention centre in South Australia and will not detain children in the centres.

'We will not ship them off to a South Pacific Island, yet unnamed,' he said.

'The Liberal party have announced they're going to continue to detain children on offshore islands.

'You're going to lock kids up on offshore islands, if you can find one to take them.

'We're actually trying to provide appropriate accommodation for families.'