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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 6266


Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR (GortonMinister for Privacy and Freedom of Information, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice) (17:00): I thank the shadow minister for his question. I do not have the specific number. I can inform him that the AFP responded quickly and professionally to the disruption on Christmas Island and I am happy to provide him with the number of officers in relation to the most recent disruption. I am also happy to indicate that the disruption has been quelled.

It has been a concern to us. This is not the first time we have seen disruptions in detention centres. There has been a series of disruptions in recent times—indeed, in June 2000, under the Howard government, 600 broke out of mainland detention centres. These are issues that are quite challenging for law enforcement agencies. The AFP, however, have dealt with these issues very well.

Only recently—I think it was on Sunday—the AFP announced that 18 people will be charged for a series of alleged offences as a result of the disruption that occurred in March. That was a quick response by the AFP to ensure that there are consequences for people breaking state and federal laws. That matter will now be determined, as is proper, by the courts. The AFP are a very professional outfit. They have done great work and shown great judgment in determining exactly how they should respond to these matters, no matter how difficult it has been. I am relieved that there have been so few injuries, despite the breadth of some of these disruptions. I think that is in no small part is due to the professional response of the AFP and officers.

I will provide the specific numbers to the member for Stirling, but I should also indicate that the AFP do have a contingency. There are always people ready to fly to Christmas Island in the event of a need to increase the number of Australian Federal Police officers on the ground there. There are people who are in the position to do so from Perth—the member for Stirling's own home city—and that is to ensure that, if there are any subsequent disruptions, then they will be dealt with appropriately.

I remind the member that these issues are challenging for all governments. We saw 600 people break out of mainland detention centres in June 2000. These are issues that are challenging to law enforcement agencies and to other agencies, including the department of immigration and their contractor Serco. I am very happy that this matter has now been quelled, that the AFP have done their job and that normalcy has resumed on the island. That is a very good thing for the clients, the contractors and the departmental staff who work in the facility.

Propose expenditure agreed to.

Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio

Proposed expenditure, $5,838,368,000