After key details from tonight’s federal budget by Scott Morrison emerged over the past week, government ministers began revealing details in parliament today.
Immigration minister Peter Dutton told parliament this afternoon that the closure of 17 onshore immigration detention centres will be announced in the Budget tonight.
“I’m pleased to announce ahead of the budget tonight that we will close 17 detention centres, resulting in 17 detention centres having been opened by Labor and 17 closed by this government,” he said.
“We have reduced the number of children in detention from 2000 under Labor down to zero. We don’t want to see new boat arrivals and we absolutely are determined that we are not going to see men, women and children drowning at sea ever again in this country.”
The minister did not specify which facilities would close, but Business Insider has been unable to find 17 centres.
The department immigration and border protection lists 10 on its website. The department runs five. Others are run by Serco and offshore, by Broadspectrum.
Australia’s oldest immigration detention sites are the 50-year-old Maribyrnong centre in Melbourne and Sydney’s Villawood detention centre, which are also used for other visa infringements by overseas visitors.
There are other centres in Perth, Christmas Island, Northern and Wickham Point in Darwin, Curtin and Yongah Hill in Western Australia. There are immigration transit accommodation centres in Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide for low-risk detainees and community-based family-style housing for detainees in Perth, Sydney, Port Augusta, Christmas Island and Adelaide.
Two years ago, when the treasure was immigration minister, Scott Morrison closed four centres – Pontville, Scherger, Port Augusta and Leonora.
The announcement comes as the Turnbull government grapples with the future of 850 refugees and asylum seekers at the Manus Island detention centre, which the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court announced last week was illegal, leading PNG prime minister Lucas O’Neil to announce it would be closed.
The subsequent debate over what to do with the 850 men there — 450 have been declared genuine refugees — has seen the Australian government rule out bringing them to Australia and also turning down an offer by New Zealand to take 150 people, with prime minister Malcolm Turnbull saying it would be “marketing” for people smugglers.
Details emerged today that another refugee on Nauru had set themselves alight and is now in a critical condition in an Australian hospital. The 21-year-old Somali refugee, Hodan Yasin, self-immolated a fortnight after another refugee Omid Masoumali, 23, did and died from his injuries.
The minister has blamed asylum seeker advocates for the incidents, saying they were offering refugees “false hope”.
“I have previously expressed my frustration and anger at advocates and others who are in contact with those in regional processing centres and who are encouraging some of these people to behave in a certain way, believing that that pressure exerted on the Australian Government will see a change in our policy in relation to our border protection measures,” Dutton said.
“We are not going to change those policies, and the advocates, by providing false hope to these people, really [are] to be condemned.”