CHRISTMAS Island is taking on qualities of Dr Who’s Tardis – it seems it can never fill up. According to officials, the island still has room for the seemingly never-ending flood of asylum seekers, even though all of the beds are full.

And the island is about to get even more crowded with yet another boat with 50 asylum seekers and four crew intercepted east of Ashmore Island yesterday. That boatload – which will take four to five days to arrive at Christmas Island – was the 35th asylum seeker boat to arrive this year and the 103rd since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd took office. Also on the way to Christmas Island is another boatload of 79 asylum seekers and four crew, intercepted on Friday.

When the two boatloads do arrive they will be added to the 2062 asylum seekers already on the island. That’s 22 more than the island’s capacity of 2040. Despite this, a Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman yesterday said: “We have adequate capacity”.

That seemingly makes Christmas Island akin to the time-travelling Tardis which, despite outwardly being the size and shape of a phone box , has infinite space inside.

The spokesman refused to respond to reports in The Weekend Australian that some detainees were sleeping in rooms designed for teaching English or for conducting interviews with immigration officers. “Christmas Island has adequate capacity for the current caseload,” was all the spokesman would say.

Outside church yesterday, Mr Rudd refused to discuss the rising tide of people fleeing persecution from, in particular, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. On Friday 36 men and one woman were granted protection visas and were transferred to the Australian mainland. Twenty-seven of the refugees were from Afghanistan, eight were from Sri Lanka and two were from other countries.

More detainees are expected to be transferred to the mainland either today or tomorrow but the immigration spokesman would not say if they were more visa recipients or were being moved to free up beds.

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