Immigration in meltdown: and no plan B

By Chris Uhlmann

Updated March 18, 2011 12:24:00

"The men inside the Christmas Island detention centre want some certainty about their future and the Immigration Department can't give it to them. (AAP - file image: Mick Tsikas)

As the dust settles on an election and new ministers are gifted jobs one of the first things to land on their desks is the incoming government brief.

Few would have had the stomach-churning read that greeted Immigration Minister Chris Bowen."

"When pressed Mr Bowen and Prime Minister Julia Gillard talk about having a regional "framework" for processing in place by the end of this term. Time will reveal what that means. It's a fair bet it won't mean an actual building, offshore where asylum seekers on their way to Australia will be housed. The next meeting where it will be discussed is slated for Bali at the end of March.

So, while it labours on a long-term solution that looks remote, the Government will continue to expand on-shore detention. The next centre, to hold 1,500 men, will be built at Wickham Point, on Darwin Harbour. The Northern Territory Police Association is already warning that they do not have the capacity to deal with a large-scale disturbance.

Even if a regional processing centre was established tomorrow, that won't solve the problem already in the system. Pressure is building everywhere and it is obvious that something has to give. The possibly of real tragedy looms large."

And there is no Plan B.

Chris Uhlmann is political editor for ABC News 24 and hosts 7.30.

Tags: community-and-society, immigration, government-and-politics, federal-government, refugees, australia

First posted March 18, 2011 12:23:00

Comments (87)

Comments for this story are closed, but you can still have your say.

  • Ture Sjolander:
Said at Abc Drum (Chris Uhlmann)
Date :
  • 18 Mar 2011 2:40:02pm

    I did initiated to build the detention center on Christmas Island 2001.
    The documentation is widely available on the internet.
    I suggest now to completely close and abolish the center.

    What will happen if it will be closed? You tell me!


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