Barnett declares remote asylum centres full
By Debbie Guest and Nicolas Perpitch
The Australian, June 30, 2010
Colin Barnett questions how the government will find space for asylum-seekers on the mainland.
Mr Barnett says two remote centres in Western Australia are already 'basically full'.
The West Australian Premier said it was time the commonwealth talked to him and other states in a 'sensible and co-operative way' to find a solution.
He said when Immigration Minister Chris Evans first discussed asylum-seeker families being housed in the Goldfields town of Leonora, Mr Barnett was assured it would only accommodate about 100 people.
'I was assured . . . it would be a temporary arrangement. Well, it's already heading up towards 200, Leonora's basically full,' he said yesterday. 'The Curtin air force base outside is also basically full. So, where to now?'
Mr Barnett renewed calls for the commonwealth to create a purpose-built facility to house asylum-seekers.
'If asylum-seekers are to be accommodated within Australia and within Western Australia, then it is incumbent on the federal government to build a purpose-built facility, instead of making short-term temporary arrangements like this,' he said.
Mr Barnett said he did not support an expansion of the disused mine camp at Leonora where numbers almost doubled at the weekend when 75 more asylum-seekers arrived.
There are now 158 people living in the camp and about half are children.
'Leonora's a great little town, but it is very isolated, it has very limited health, education facilities and the like,' Mr Barnett said.
A spokesman for Mr Evans said yesterday that Mr Barnett's office had been advised of transfers to Leonora 'at all times'.