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Priority : Supporting the government's unauthorised boat arrivals policy in the external territories, and facilitating the construction of a new detention centre on Christmas Island

A key priority of the department has been supporting the government's unauthorised boat arrivals policy in the external territories. The government decided to build a purpose designed Immigration Reception and Processing Centre (IRPC) on Christmas Island in March 2002. The department was tasked with facilitating the construction of the centre.

Consultations with the local community, the Shire and the Chamber of Commerce were held. During these consultations the community indicated its overall support for the project and recognised the opportunity for local employment and economic development. Infrastructure upgrades associated with the IRPC were also welcomed.

The department resumed the 43 hectare site for the construction of the centre from Phosphate Resources Limited (PRL). The site is located on North West Point on land formerly under mining lease to PRL. Negotiations are proceeding with the company on the quantum of compensation that will be paid for the land.

The department was also responsible for the connection of trunk services (water, power and communication) to the site and for housing for workers and staff. Tenders were let for the provision of the trunk services and for the construction of 160 units and 12 houses for staff housing. These works are now largely complete.

To address the increased pressure on existing community infrastructure, the government approved funding for the construction of dedicated sports facilities for the community. Community consultation on the facilities to be developed has been undertaken and tenders for design and construction have closed.

The government also brought forward works on common-use infrastructure, including a much needed upgrade of the existing port facilities and the construction of an additional port to provide all weather seaport access. These works are also largely completed. Improvements to island water supplies are also planned. Environmental infrastructure to protect the island population of red crabs from increased road traffic is also under way.

Investments into the island economy from these measures will exceed $80 million and, with the ongoing impact from staffing of the centre, represent a significant boost to the economy of the territory.

The government recently announced that the success of their unauthorised boat arrivals policy has enabled them to reduce the size of the planned detention facilities and to delay the constructions which had previously been fast tracked.

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