Protests in Australian towns over plans to hold illegals there
Many of the illegals are fundamentalist Muslims from Afghanistan -- and fundamentalist Muslims deliberately killed a lot of Australians in Bali. Certainly not ideal neighbours
SENIOR government ministers have warned against public hysteria following an angry backlash against plans to move asylum-seekers.
Immigration officials were jeered as they tried to reassure residents at a public meeting in the Adelaide Hills that having the asylum-seekers in their communities would be a positive and rewarding experience.
Trade Minister Craig Emerson warned against public hysteria over the government's plan to build centres in the two states to handle rising numbers of boat arrivals. "Let's not start this sort of hysteria that they're somehow horrible, dangerous people," he said. "These are people who will be assessed using the normal checks that were put in place many, many years ago."
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen assured residents that resources would not be stripped from local communities, and extra resources for the centres would be provided by the government.
Residents of Woodside in the Adelaide Hills reacted angrily to plans to house up to 400 asylum-seekers on the nearby Inverbrackie defence estate.
At a meeting on Thursday night, many said they were concerned schools could be overwhelmed and crime could rise.
The Coalition leapt on the issue, vowing to push for a parliamentary inquiry to examine the plans for the centres.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the government had created a "rolling detention crisis".
"There are just so many people now that they're trying to accommodate, that the community of Inverbrackie, without any consultation, without any forewarning, has had this forced upon them.
"I'm just amazed that the government is surprised that there would be some reaction from the community when they haven't even been talked to." Mr Bowen "should front up to the community and answer the questions", Mr Morrison said. "He shouldn't be shielding himself behind Immigration officials who too often have to do the dirty work of this government."
Mr Morrison's comments drew criticism from Liberal Bruce Baird, an outspoken critic of John Howard's hard line on immigration, who held the seat of Cook before him. "They're creating myths and scaremongering, and I think that's unfortunate," Mr Baird said. "They're very vulnerable people."
Mr Baird, who is chairman of the Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council, said there was no reason for residents to be concerned. "When we released children and their families in 2005 there was concern that they would abscond and cause problems in the community, and neither of that happened. . . . They would probably be model citizens."
Mr Bowen said health services for asylum-seekers would be provided on-site. "Any additional teaching resources required will be paid for by the commonwealth, as they always are."
Mr Bowen said the residents' concerns about pressure on health facilities and schools were understandable and it was appropriate that the government respond to them. "We are working closely with the Department of Education and schools to ensure that families are accommodated at this centre with no adverse impact on local communities."
The Department of Immigration and service provider Serco would bring in medical experts to the Inverbrackie facility to care for detainees, he said. "There will be no impact on local facilities."
Federal Liberal MP Jamie Briggs wants to introduce a private member's bill establishing a parliamentary inquiry to hear the residents' views.
Mr Morrison said people were rightly upset. "These are not refugees who have been settled into the community, who have had their asylum claims proved. They are people who are maybe there for six months, three months."