Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the reopening of the Christmas Island detention centre, marking a harsh response to the historic asylum seeker medical transfer bill which passed in the House of Representatives last night.
Speaking in front of Parliament House this morning, Morrison reiterated his position the vote will encourage people smugglers to continue their operations in Australian waters – and that reopening the shuttered centre was part of a contingency plan to dissuade those potential arrivals.
“My job now is to ensure the boats don’t come,” Morrison said.
“My job now is to do everything in my power, in the power of the government, to ensure what the Parliament has done to weaken our borders does not result in boats coming to Australia.”
He said the government’s border protection policies, which now includes the reopening of the Christmas Island centre, remain “a great deterrent” to people smuggling operations.
Yes, the government is wielding its reluctance to provide Australian medical care, and its use of harsh facilities like Christmas Island, as an apparent weapon against asylum seekers.
The amended bill, which passed into law in the Senate shortly after Morrison’s announcement, hands doctors on Nauru and Manus Island greater power to transfer asylum seekers to Australian medical facilities.
Despite dire warnings about the health of offshore detainees from groups like Doctors Without Borders, the Coalition government has been reluctant to permit too many medical transfers. The Guardian reports the government spent nearly $300,000 last financial year solely on legal costs to challenge those transfers in court.
The Christmas Island detention centre was mothballed late last year as part of a pre-election promise to shutter a series of immigration facilities. Didn’t last long, did it?