Australia defends plans for island quarantine camp
Australia’s government has defended its plan to send citizens evacuated from China to a remote island which has been used as a detention centre for asylum seekers.
Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, has been used by the government in a widely condemned policy of banishing asylum seekers who attempt to arrive by boat to offshore camps.
Peter Dutton, Australia’s home affairs minister, has said the plan strikes the right balance between supporting Australians who are stuck in China and protecting the wider population from coronavirus.
“The reality is people need to be accommodated somewhere for up to 14 days,” Mr Dutton told reporters in Canberra.
“I can't clear out a hospital in Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane. I don't have a facility otherwise that we can quickly accommodate for what might be many hundreds of people and Christmas Island is purpose-built for exactly this scenario.”
The Australian Medical Association, the nation's leading medical advocate, has said Australians would be better quarantined on the country’s mainland.
“We feel that the repatriation to Christmas Island - to a place previously the focus of populations under enormous mental and physical trauma and anguish - is not a really appropriate solution,” Tony Bartone, the association’s president, told Nine Network.
The United Nations has condemned Australia's indefinite banishing of asylum seekers to island camps as inhumane and argued it stokes violence and mental illness.Source: Getty Images