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New detention centre earmarked for Pontville -

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ALI MOORE: The Federal Government is setting up a new detention centre at Pontville in Hobart's

The first of 400 male asylum seekers will arrive in weeks.

Even though the Government says the men will only be there for six months, it's planning to spend
$15 million to build the facility.

From Hobart, Rebecca Hewett reports.

REBECCA HEWETT: Pontville is better known for its historic buildings than razor wire, but that's
about to change.

In a month, these former army barracks will house 250 male asylum seekers, increasing to 400 after
a $15 million upgrade.

CHRIS BOWEN, IMMIGRATION MINISTER: We will of course need to construct the appropriate fences and
security and bring in some additional buildings, over and above what is already there. But the
majority of buildings are suitable at the Pontville site for the detention facility.

REBECCA HEWETT: The Federal Government says Pontville will only be used until October, when new
detention centres in Darwin and Western Australia become operational.

SCOTT MORRISON, OPPOSITION IMMIGRATION SPOKESMAN: But like deficits, detention centres under Labor
are never temporary.

ERIC ABETZ, LIBERAL SENATOR: If Hobart has to become the frontline for Labor's border protection
policy, you know that they failed.

REBECCA HEWETT: The Premier has written to the Minister seeking an assurance Tasmania won't foot
the bill and warning there could be problems.

LARA GIDDINGS, TASMANIAN PREMIER: Having been a resident of Pontville myself, I know how cold that
environment can be in the winter months.

REBECCA HEWETT: The first Brighton's Mayor heard of it was an early morning phone call from Chris
Bowen. He expects the same warm welcome for the new arrivals, as was given to Kosovo refugees that
were housed in nearby Brighton a decade ago.

TOBY FOSTER, BRIGHTON MAYOR: I feel that even though this is a totally different situation and a
different scenario these people will be coming under, I don't see any concerns in our community

REBECCA HEWETT: But not everyone's behind him.

TASMANIAN RESIDENT: Preferably not in Tasmania.

TASMANIAN RESIDENT 2: We did the Kosovo so well, I don't know why we can't be used.

TASMANIAN RESIDENT 3: It shouldn't be down here.

REBECCA HEWETT: Andrew Wilkie feels the same, but for different reasons.

ANDREW WILKIE, INDEPENDENT MP: Just because there is an economic spin-off, does not in any way
override the pressing ethical dimension of this that mandatory detention is wrong.

REBECCA HEWETT: Pontville residents will get their chance to voice their opinion when the Federal
Government holds a public meeting next week.