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Christmas Island: residents concerned about the number of illegal residents arriving in their port.



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HAMISH ROBERTSON: The residents of Christmas Island, where the latest ship load of illegals first arrived, are demanding that the Federal Government take action. Lisa Stingel prepared this report.

 

DAVE McLANE: It’s just unbelievable. The technology was in place in World War II. Now, nobody will ever be able to convince me (1) that they don’t know who controls the trade in Indonesia; secondly, that they don’t know these boats are arriving until they pull up in our port. Look, if they want to, they can see what type of beer I’m drinking at the moment.

 

LISA STINGEL: The Shire President of Christmas Island, Dave McLane. The residents were again taken by surprise when the latest smuggling boat arrived without warning in their port late on Friday. Since then, the group from Iraq have been housed in the island’s sports centre. Mr McLane says locals are tired of the inconvenience caused by the arrivals.

 

DAVE McLANE: Everyone races down, picks them up. The police pick them up, take them off to the sports centre and hold them in custody there. But then they have to race around and buy food so they clean out the supermarket and the shops. It means that we can’t buy stuff because it’s been bought up by the authorities to keep the refugees going.

 

LISA STINGEL: This year, six boats carrying illegal immigrants have arrived at Christmas Island. Just last month, a boat broke up near the island and sank. Fifteen people drowned and another five were rescued by a passing yacht. But despite the regular arrivals, Dave McLane says the Federal Government has made no plans to care for them.

 

DAVE McLANE: It’s not too bad as a sports centre but it’s certainly no gaol, and I think that the Commonwealth, if they’re not prepared to bite the bullet and nip this trade in human misery in the bud in Indonesia where they can, if they’re not prepared to do that, then they need to put facilities in place that allow for the proper handling, the proper servicing of the refugees so that they can then be moved on to Australia. I’m totally opposed to turning Christmas Island into a new Port Hedland holding centre, where we become a big holding centre for the world’s refugees.

 

HAMISH ROBERTSON: Christmas Island Shire President, Dave McLane.