Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison has stirred up controversy during an inspection of Christmas Island, saying that protesting asylum seekers have nothing to complain about.

Mr Morrison has been visiting the island’s detention centre with Independent Senator Steve Fielding to speak with detainees and inspect the facilities.

His description of the island as a ‘visa factory’ and Mr Fielding’s comment that the island’s facilities are too attractive have drawn the ire of Labor MP Michael Danby, who nicknamed the pair “Laurel and Hardy” and accused them of fear mongering.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans says he has been told 130 Sri Lankans are staging a peaceful protest, including a hunger strike. But Mr Morrison says the facilities are first class and the protest is a cry for attention. “I think Australians can rest easy about the treatment of asylum seekers on Christmas Island,” he said.

“I think this is more of a cry for attention rather at this stage rather than anything of any great seriousness, and frankly they have nothing to complain about in terms of the facilities or the services, or the treatment that they’re receiving on this island. “I think we have a lot to be proud of in the way that people are being looked after here. I thought the standard of facilities at least met that standard, if not better in some cases.”

Activist groups say more than 350 detainees are staging a peaceful protest and hunger strikes against the time it is taking to process their claims. Earlier, Senator Evans said the protest would do little to help the detainees’ cause. “I want to make it very clear to them and to the community … we’re not going to be responding to this,” he said. “What we are going to do is ensure proper process is followed – that is people have to have had their health, identity and security checks and then they have to have been successful in their application for protection.”

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