The Government Is Already Preparing To Re-Close Christmas Island Detention Centre

Welcome to budget night 2019 — Australia’s night of nights for a very specific kind of person, who, in all likelihood, is not you. With a looming election, the government is trying to win people the best way a Coalition government knows how: tax cuts. The government is spruiking cuts for “low- and middle-income earners“, promising reductions in tax of “up to 1,080 for single earners or up to $2,160 for dual income families“, with a promise to reduce the tax rate for those earning between $45,000 and $200,000 from 32.5% to 30%.

[jwplayer d9puT9DZ]

One interesting detail to come out of the budget is the government’s plan to, once again, close the detention centre on Christmas Island. The government’s response to the passing of the medivac bill was to immediately start scaremongering about the consequences, claiming that the detention centre on Christmas Island would need to be reopened.

This was quite perplexing for some, including Shire of Christmas Island CEO David Price, who said that Christmas Island wouldn’t have the capacity” to deal with the arrival of any medical transfers, “both physically and mentally”. 

The medivac bill puts healthcare professionals in charge of deciding whether detainees in offshore detention centres are required to be flown to mainland Australia for medical treatment, with veto power given to the government in regards to national security or criminal concerns. So far, only one person has been brought to Australia under the new laws, according to The Guardian.

Despite at the time claiming that the medivac bill (including the re-opening of the Christmas Island detention centre) would cost taxpayers somewhere around $1.4 billion, the budget indicates that Christmas Island will be closed again as of July, with a budgeted cost to the taxpayer of $185.1 million.

Per the budget paper, the government plans (if re-elected) to repeal the legislation and close the centre by July next year, returning any detainees to Nauru or Papua New Guinea. As The Guardian is reporting, so far, no one has been taken to Christmas Island for processing, assessment, or treatment.