The Federal Opposition says the arrival of two more boats carrying asylum seekers and the escape of three detainees from a detention centre shows the Government is losing control of Australia’s borders. One hundred asylum seeker boats have arrived in Australian waters since the Government was elected in 2007. The two most recent arrivals were detected in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that four detainees have escaped from Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre in the past month.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says the Federal Government’s border protection policies are not working. “This is a 100-fold indictment of the Rudd Government’s policies,” he said. “When Julia Gillard was the shadow minister for immigration she would regularly put out press releases saying ‘another boat, another policy failure’. This is a policy failure compounded 100 times.”
The Immigration Department is threatening to fine the operator of the Villawood Detention Centre over a spate of recent escapes. Three Chinese nationals climbed over a fence at Villawood early this morning and are still on the run. New South Wales police are searching for the trio. Two of the men had been detained for over-staying temporary visas while the third is said to be an unauthorised air arrival….
Mr Abbott says the Government should take the blame for the recent escapes because it is responsible for policies on detention centres. “It’s the Government’s policy which has caused these problems,” he said. “These are centres are being run for the Australian Government and the Government has to take responsibility.”
An Immigration Department spokesman says the men who escaped are not considered to pose a threat to the community. He also said they were not part of the group of 89 failed asylum seekers who were moved from Christmas Island to Villawood over the weekend. Those men – from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran – had been rejected as refugees and transferred to Villawood while the Federal Government arranges to send them home.
The department spokesman said extra staff had been put on duty in each of Villawood’s compounds to cope with the detainees arriving from Christmas Island….
The Opposition has been quick to attack the Government over the transfer of the 89 men, saying the move signals the end of offshore processing. It also says their arrival on the mainland could give the men new rights. But Senator Evans says they are still classed as offshore arrivals.