Behold! The local media (in today’s Australian) briefly mention the role of British multinational Serco but watch how quickly it’ll be buried again. Nothing to see here, all hail privatised cruelty:
The government has ruled out using the military as a crisis response force in the event of trouble at a new immigration detention centre at Cape York Peninsula, giving police that role.
An Immigration Department spokesman confirmed that officials and private security contractor Serco had undertaken contingency planning to deal with potential security issues at the planned detention centre at the Scherger airforce base near Weipa, 2500km north of Brisbane.
“This is standard operating procedure for all of (the department’s) immigration detention centres and facilities,” the spokesman told The Australian yesterday.
“We are not going to discuss details of our contingency planning other than to say that the use of defence forces is not a part of contingency plans.”
In two to three weeks, Scherger will be opened to house up to 300 single adult male asylum-seekers currently held on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.
Serco, the British-based private security contractor in charge of the centre, already holds the contract for security at every Australian immigration detention facility. It has refused to be interviewed.
As well as using Scherger, additional immigration detention accommodation is being added at the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre in remote Western Australia, and at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, for families and children.
This sparked criticism from West Australian Premier Colin Barnett, who said WA police had raised concerns about their capacity to deal with riots and escapees from the base at Derby, in the Kimberley region of WA.
Weipa is more than 800km from Cairns and is more than one hour by plane from the far north Queensland city.
A spokesman for the Queensland Police Service said the QPS would work with “relevant state and federal authorities to provide an appropriate policing response” when required at Scherger.
There are 12 police officers permanently based at the Weipa police station. The next closest police station to the Scherger base is at Aurukun, an indigenous community about 100km south of Weipa, at which 10 police officers are stationed.
Earlier this month, nearly 100 asylum-seekers broke out of the detention centre in Darwin and staged a peaceful protest outside the fence before being rounded up by Northern Territory police.