The Christmas Island camp, a detention center for migrants with a sinister reputation, will reopen its doors off the coast of Australia. It could accommodate, in the weeks to come, some 300 refugees. Scott Morrison, the Conservative Prime Minister, announced his reinstatement on Wednesday February 13, after suffering a historic defeat in Parliament on migration issues. On February 12 and 13, the two Chambers had indeed voted on amendments, carried by the Labor Party, intended to facilitate the transfer to Australian soil, in the event of medical necessity, of asylum seekers relegated by Canberra to two islands in Peaceful.
The Conservatives, who wave the risk of the arrival of a ” new wave ” of illegal immigrants, have placed the issue of border security at the heart of the political debate. While the legislative elections are to be held by May 18 and all the polls show them beaten, they intend to prove their firmness on this issue traditionally buoyant for the Australian right. “We have approved a procedure for the reopening of detention facilities on Christmas Island, to manage both the prospect of new arrivals and the prospect of these transfers [médicaux] », said Scott Morrison on Wednesday.
If, for some Australians, this camp located around 1,500 km northwest of the island-continent, represents fifteen dark years enamelled with riots and suicides until its closure in October 2018, it evokes more , for others, the makeshift boats, loaded with illegal immigrants, landing almost every day on the coasts of the country. A bygone era since in 2013, the Conservative government adopted a zero-tolerance policy of pushing back intercepted boats at sea and returning arrested asylum seekers to offshore detention centres. A success that Scott Morrison, then Minister of Immigration, claims.
But this policy, described as“inhuman” by the United Nations, has plunged into despair the asylum seekers relegated to the island of Manus, in Papua New Guinea, and to the islet of Nauru in the Pacific. In limbo, many of them, including children, sank into depression. At the end of 2018, in the face of criticism, the government finally decided to evacuate all minors. The situation of adults – a thousand men and women, most of whom have obtained refugee status – remains worrying. A third of them would need to be followed, for physical or mental problems, in appropriate medical structures. In 2014, an Iranian detainee died of a simple infection in Manus.
“We can have secure borders while fulfilling our duty of care to the people in our care,” repeated, in front of the Parliament, the leader of Labor, Bill Shorten. The amendments adopted on Wednesday February 13, give more powers to doctors to decide on the transfer, to Australia, of sick refugees. Since then, elected Conservatives have been unleashed, accusing the opposition, which has no intention of easing the country’s migration policy, of” weaken “ the protection of borders, to encourage smugglers to resume their activities and to put illegal immigrants, tempted by the perilous crossing, at a mortal risk. The Prime Minister is playing on his favorite turf. According to an Ipsos poll published in December 2018, 49% of voters trust him to ensure the security of the territory – only 32% to Labor Bill Shorten.
The opposition, which denounces the speech “lying” and based on ” the fear “ by Scott Morrison, took the risk of defending this legislation shortly before the legislative elections, betting that the population was more and more sensitive to the fate of these refugees, and above all concerned about issues of social justice.