FEDERAL MP Warren Entsch says the escape of seven detainees from Scherger Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) illustrates the “absolute failure” of the Gillard Government’s immigration policy.
“It just shows you that the whole system is broken in relation to the way in which the government is dealing with this very, very serious issue,” Mr Entsch said today. “It’s clear that they can’t control their borders but they also can’t control the detention centres where they’re putting these people.
“The fact of the matter is that they are bursting at the seams because of failed policy.”
The Member for Leichhardt highlighted the fact that in this financial year, more than 21,000 asylum-seekers have come to Australia. Since January 1, the figure is almost 10,000 and this month alone, 2500.
“We should never have got into this situation,” Mr Entsch explained.
“When we left government in 2007 we had fixed this problem there were half a dozen boats over five years. We’d shut down Curtin and Christmas Island, there were a couple of people on Nauru and a few on Manus Island.
“Now look at the mess they’ve created.
“What’s even more worrying is that this is not the first time it’s happened. There have been others that have got out I’m aware of cases where the local taxi driver has been hailed by a passenger with no luggage at the side of the road in Weipa, asking to be taken to Cairns. He’s taken them to the airport and called the police.
“This is not an unusual occurrence, but what’s unusual about yesterday’s events is that seven people managed to escape and six of them somehow managed to purchase a ticket and board a commercial flight from Weipa to Cairns, and check into a local backpackers’. It is just bizarre.”
Mr Entsch has long advocated that Scherger would be better positioned as a fully operational air force base, as was it was intended for. It is also significant that it has recently been revealed that the Department of Defence argued very strongly against Scherger being used to house immigration detainees.
“We’ve now got a prison farm that is bursting at its seams and we’ve got five people who have been arrested for aiding and abetting,” Mr Entsch said. “It will be interesting to find out what their backgrounds are.
“This case just illustrates the fact that we’ve got serious issues in regards to immigration and if the situation doesn’t change, it’s going to cost us more and more. These billions could help fund the NDIS; they could go towards our schools or our hospital but instead they are being squandered on a failed policy that this government hasn’t got the capacity to manage.”