Island exodus grows as PM’s 100th boat looms

Nicola Berkovic & Paige Taylor; 29/3/10

Plans to transfer asylum-seekers from Christmas Island to the mainland are being stepped up as the Rudd government prepares for the prospect of receiving its 100th unauthorised boat arrival since taking office. As the opposition accused the government of turning Christmas Island into a visa factory, the number of asylum-seekers and crew moved to the mainland reached more than 350 over the weekend. The Australian has learned that the Department of Immigration plans to fly more people off the island as early as tomorrow, when a charter flight from the mainland is expected. Sources said about 50 men at the island’s Immigration Detention Centre had been told they would be going to immigration detention in Darwin “soon”. Others inside the centre have been told they will receive visas this week and will be flown to the mainland to begin new lives as permanent residents.

See:; For Ravi, the boredom of immigration detention was too much; Nicolas Perpitch; 29/3/10;; Anger over refugee backflip; Peter Kerr & Shane Wright;; Rudd’s hard line on asylum rejects; Kirty Needham; 29/3/10;;