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NRL has no drug problem: Smith

As more players looked set to be embroiled in a cocaine scandal, NRL boss Dave Smith has claimed rugby league does not have a drug problem.

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The Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) has predicted further arrests in the coming days as part of their investigation into the state’s cocaine trafficking syndicate that has already claimed players in two codes.

Queensland Reds’ code hopper Karmichael Hunt and five Gold Coast Titans NRL players have already been embroiled in the scandal.

And reports on Tuesday claimed a high profile retired player may be among the next named.

“Based on current information, the CCC expects any further arrests of current or former sportspeople will occur by the end of this week or early next week,” the CCC statement said.

Titans players Greg Bird, Dave Taylor, Beau Falloon, Jamie Dowling and Kalifa Faifai Loa have been issued with court notices to face drug supply charges and are due to appear in court over the next fortnight.

They have been stood down pending their court appearances.

After stressing that the cocaine scandal was unrelated to the NRL taking control of the battling Titans on Tuesday, Smith said drugs were not a rugby league issue.

“This is a society-wide problem, this is not about sports or players,” he said.

“One thousand players pull on an NRL jersey.

“We’re talking about a handful of players that have been charged so no it’s not a problem.”

Smith was unsure how long the Titans players would be stood down for after it emerged it could take 12-18 months for their cases to be finalised.

Lawyer Campbell MacCallum said on Tuesday that his clients – Bird, Taylor, Faifai Loa and Dowling – intended to deny the pending charges when they first face court in early March and he was confident they would ultimately be cleared.

He described as “premature” a report on Tuesday that the players may consider suing the NRL club if they weren’t allowed to play in the 2015 season.

“As the facts emerge we’ll decide what the appropriate course of action is,” Smith said.

“At this point in time the right thing to do due to the seriousness of the charges is stand the players down and I fully support that board’s decision.”

Smith said he was aware that the CCC may announce more arrests in the coming days but was “not privy to their investigation”.

Meanwhile, MacCallum was concerned about the possibility the players could be sidelined for a much longer period.

“The issue arises when there’s been some stories about the board perhaps standing players down indefinitely or until the court proceedings have been finalised,” he told Fox Sports.

But he added: “I can say the players have instructed they are loyal to the club – they’re not talking about suing anyone.”

MacCallum also dismissed speculation about a drug ring at the Titans.

Dowling and teammate Beau Falloon received notices to appear in court on March 5 – two days before the Titans’ opening match of the NRL season against the Wests Tigers.

Bird, Taylor and Faifai Loa are due to face court on March 9.

Bird and Taylor were seen entering Southport police station with their lawyer on Tuesday.

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Scramble to find quake-zone Aussies

Hundreds of Australians live in one of the areas potentially worst hit by the tsunami in Japan, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says.

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Japan was rocked by a 8.9-magnitude earthquake on Friday afternoon, triggering a damaging tsunami which swept through the country’s northeast.

Worst hit was the city of Sendai where hundreds have been found dead and the toll is expected to rise.

Mr Rudd said contact had been made with all prefectures except Miyagi, where the danger and damage has been the greatest.

Communications in Sendai were severely degraded, the foreign minister said.

There were 54 Australians registered as living in the city but there were probably hundreds of Australians living in the area, Mr Rudd said.

“The reason being is that it is a place where Australian language teachers have gone to work,” he told reporters in Canberra today.

“The pictures are awful and they are stomach-turning in terms of the level of destruction and the force of nature.

“Therefore, we are deeply worried about the impact and the loss of life on the local Japanese communities in that area, as we are about the numbers of Australians who are registered as being in Sendai and the additional number we believe to be resident in Sendai as well.”

An interdepartmental emergency taskforce had met on Saturday to discuss Australia’s response.

The National Security Committee of Cabinet would also meet to focus on the co-ordination of available assets in the government’s response.

Australian search and rescue teams stand ready to travel to Japan, as early as Saturday night to help, Mr Rudd said.

“Australia is ready to throw anything as is required (to help in this emergency) … We will throw everything at it,” he said.

Australia’s travel advisory to Japan has been updated to keep Australians at least 10km away from the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant, where there are concerns about leakages.

A Japanese nuclear safety panel said radiation levels are 1000 times above normal in the reactor’s control room after the plant’s cooling system was damaged.

“We have unconfirmed reports about the status of the plant and the status of the cooling tower, that’s why we are advised these precautionary measures have been taken by the Japanese government,” Mr Rudd said.

Australians have been urged to reconsider travel to ski resorts in the Nagano and Niigata prefectures because of the risk of further quakes and avalanches.

A number of airports in Japan’s north are closed and flights across the nation have been disrupted.Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop joined the government in offering Japan Australia’s deep condolences.

“We remain hopeful that all Australians in Japan are safe and well, although it is deeply worrying that a number of Australians are known to be in areas that suffered some of the worst devastation,” Ms Bishop said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan during this traumatic time, with the death toll expected to rise significantly.”

People concerned about family in Japan should try to contact them by mobile and home telephone before calling the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s emergency number 1300 555 135.

The hotline has already taken 2155 calls.

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Refugee resettlement deal with Cambodia appears closer

(Transcript from World News Radio)

 

Australia’s refugee resettlement deal with Cambodia appears to be a step closer.

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The International Organisation for Migration says it’s been asked to facilitate the transfer of refugees from the Australian detention centre on Nauru, to Cambodia.

 

Santilla Chingaipe has the details.

 

(Click on audio tab to listen to this item)

 

The deal between Australia and Cambodia was signed off by the former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison on a visit to Phnom Penh towards the end of last year.

 

Under the deal, asylum seekers on Nauru found to be refugees could voluntarily choose to be resettled in Cambodia.

 

The federal government said they would receive resettlement packages, including language classes, to make them self-reliant as quickly as possible.

 

The Geneva-based IOM says the three countries involved have now requested assistance to implement the arrangement.

 

It’s not yet clear when the resettlement is due to begin.

 

Secretary of the Department of Immigration, Mike Pezullo told a Senate committee hearing it’s up to the governments of Nauru and Cambodia.

 

“Primary jurisidiction here, in fact the sole jurisdiction here, sits with the government of Nauru. We assist the government of Nauru through MoU (memorandum of understanding), with the provision of services, translation, different language groups being looked at. We also assist the kingdom of Cambodia in its preparatory work to in effect set up a resettlement program. It’s something they are not on their account fully conversant with, so we’re assisting them. And the other party that has made public comment on this is the International Organisation of Migration, or IOM which has a role to play.”

 

Mr Pezullo says Australia will be paying an estimated $40 million over four years to help the Cambodian government to implement the deal.

 

“We’re providing support, and we intend to provide support to the kingdom of Cambodia so that they can establish a properly functioning resettlement program which might have an application to another refugee and asylum seeker related issues – so when you say we’re paying the bills, we have provided a commitment to the Cambodians which we will fully equip to provide them with support in monetary and other kind. It’s their program, it’s their jurisdiction.”

 

Another Immigration Department official, Kate Pope, says Australia may end up paying for contracting the IOM.

 

“If the government of Cambodia contracts with the IOM to deliver these services, then the Australian government will pay the costs of that contract.”

 

Meanwhile, at the same hearing, Immigration officials confirmed a 16-year-old girl had jumped from the balcony of a detention centre last Friday and taken to a Darwin hospital.

 

Mike Pezullo says his department is doing all it can to ascertain the reason.

 

“I as Secretary I can give you an absolute assurance, that I’ll be particularly interested in the follow-up action once the girl’s medical condition stabilises – sounds like it is stable – that specialists speak to her about her motivations, her feelings. It’s a pretty serious step to throw yourself from a height.”

 

The girl had been transferred to Australia in January from detention in Nauru.

 

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young told the committee that she had heard reports the girl had allegedly been sexually assaulted on the island.

 

Immigration Department official Ken Douglas says it’s investigating those claims.

 

“I have seen a late report this afternoon to that effect, but I think … the department is properly going to undertake further investigations into those claims.”

 

Mr Douglas says the department is aware of 44 cases of of alleged sexual assaults of children in detention facilities on the Australian mainland.

 

He says there have also been reported cases of sexual assault of children in the Australian detention centre on Nauru.

 

“Between the 1st of July, 2013 and the 31st of January, 2015, the department was made aware of 19 cases of reported sexual assault in detention on Nauru. Of those 19, five of them relate to minors.”

 

Earlier this month, the Australian Human Rights Commission reported that between 2013 and 2015, there were 223 recorded assaults on children in immigration detention.

 

Many were cases of sexual assault.

 

 

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Australia beat Kenya by 60 runs

Australia’s “rusty” spin attack failed to take a wicket as the world champions recorded an

unconvincing 60-run win over World Cup Group A rivals Kenya.

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Australia chose to bat first in Bangalore on Sunday, scoring 6-324 led by Michael Clarke (93 from 80 balls) and recalled veteran Mike Hussey (54 off 43).

The No.13-ranked Kenyans hit 6-264, a brave effort against a bowling attack which looked rusty after not playing for eight days.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting had said on match eve he supported the next World Cup featuring 10 teams instead of 14 and the Kenyans clearly had a statement to make on Sunday.

Tanmay Mishra scored a career-best 72 before he was run out by

Clarke with a direct hit from point.

Mishra and Collins Obuya added 115 to take the score to 4-161.

Man of the match Obuya made a career-best 98 not out, failing to hit a boundary when on 97 facing Shaun Tait with one ball remaining.

Tait was Australia’s only multiple wicket-taker with 2-49 from

eight overs.

Australia’s spinners Jason Krejza (0-36 off eight), Steve Smith (0-36 off six) and Clarke (0-21 off five) failed to make an impact despite bowling on a pitch favouring spin.

It was the first time in five matches in the tournament that Kenya had reached 200.

“We were a bit rusty, having a long break between games,” said Ponting whose team hadn’t had a full match for over two weeks after last weekend’s clash with Sri Lanka was rained off.

“Our bowling was okay, we probably just lacked a little bit of the intensity required through our middle overs tonight.”

Australia had slumped to 4-143 as 13,600 fans sensed trouble for the world champions before Hussey and Clarke added 114 for the fifth wicket.

Hussey had been dropped from the original 15-man squad last month because he was recovering from hamstring surgery.

Paceman Doug Bollinger’s ankle injury opened the door for a recall after one Shield match and Hussey was included in Sunday’s team at the expense of brother David.

Brad Haddin was caught at long-on from the bowling of off-spinner Jimmy Kamande for 65 at 2-127 in the 25th over.Ponting fell in the next, lbw for 36 to leg-spinner Obuya.

Australia’s third setback in three overs came when Cameron White was bowled by Kamande for two, bringing Hussey to the crease with three wickets having fallen for 16 runs.

Hussey signed off on another ultra-professional performance when he was caught at long-on in the 44th over, becoming one of paceman Nehemiah Odhiambo’s three victims.

Clarke’s fourth half-century in his past five games ended when the 29-year-old holed out seven runs shy of his first World Cup hundred. The vice-captain averages 175 in the tournament.

Unbeaten in 33 World Cup games, Australia’s next assignment is against Canada in Bangalore on Wednesday.

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Tsunami waves roll across the Pacific

One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded struck on Friday off the coast of Japan, spawning a tsunami whose violent effects were felt across the Pacific region – from the Far East to South America to the US West coast.

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Hundreds of people were killed, and many more were missing or injured. A summary of the day’s developments:

IN THE FAR EAST:

The 8.9-magnitude quake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, killing hundreds and wreaking horrific destruction: Giant waves carried away houses, cars and even light planes. Fires burned out of control. A ship was caught in the vortex of a whirlpool at sea. Tokyo was largely shut down.

A cooling system failed at a nuclear plant and radiation levels surged to 1000 times their normal levels, prompting calls for the evacuation of thousands from the area.

Scientists said the quake ranked as the fifth largest in the world since 1900 and was nearly 8000 times stronger than one that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month.

A global investment banking group estimated overall losses of about $US10 billion and President Barack Obama pledged US assistance following what he called a potentially “catastrophic” disaster.

IN THE US:

Soon after the quake hit, sirens blared in Hawaii, warning of a tsunami that swamped Hawaii beaches and pushed waves into hotel lobbies on the Big Island. The West Coast pulled back from the shoreline, fearing the worst. Residents were warned to stay away from beaches. Fishermen in northern California took their vessels out to sea and safety.

Docks were ripped from harbours in California and Oregon, and outside Brookings, Oregon, four people went to a beach to watch the waves and were swept into the sea.

All either got out on their own or were rescued. In Crescent City, California., the Coast Guard searched for a man who was swept out to sea while taking pictures.

In Oregon, hotels were evacuated and shops stayed shuttered in the northwest tourist town of Seaside.

But in the end, relatively little damage was reported outside Japan.

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie said the islands were “fortunate almost beyond words. … All of us had that feeling that Hawaii was just the most blessed place on the face of the Earth today.”

ELSEWHERE:

Tsunami warnings were extended to a number of areas in the Pacific, Southeast Asia and Latin America, including Japan, Russia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Chile. In the Philippines, authorities ordered an evacuation of coastal communities, but no unusual waves were reported.

Latin American governments ordered islanders and coastal residents to head for higher ground. Coastal officials from Mexico to Chile hauled boats from the sea, closing ports and schools and preparing to evacuate thousands of people ahead of the tsunami’s expected arrival.

Thousands fled homes in Indonesia after officials warned of a tsunami. In Guam, the waves broke two US Navy submarines from their moorings, but tug boats corralled the subs and brought them back to their pier.

In the Canadian pacific coast province of British Columbia, authorities evacuated marinas, beaches and other areas.

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AFL says no links to Hunt crisis yet

The AFL remains adamant it has received no information linking any of its players to the drug allegations involving Karmichael Hunt.

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AFL chief executive Gill McLachlan said while it appeared the former Gold Coast player had made a terrible mistake, Hunt had also made an invaluable contribution to the Suns.

The code-hopping former Suns player, now with Super Rugby outfit Queensland, has received a notice to appear in court on March 5 for allegedly supplying cocaine.

The period in question was between September 1 and October 3 last year, when Hunt technically was still at the Suns.

The scandal has spread to the NRL, but so far Hunt is the only current or former AFL player implicated.

“We can only ask the questions we can of the appropriate people – we’ve done that,” McLachlan said on Tuesday.

“I do not have any information at the moment that is negative or alarming.

“But I don’t have any assurances of any broader implications.

“So we have a watching brief.”

McLachlan said he would not buy into speculation about what had happened.

“He’s made – seemingly – a terrible mistake,” he said.

“What exactly he’s done will play out and the implications will play out.

“But I’m not going to be piling in with everyone else to … diminish what he did.

“We’ll see what specifically his transgression is – it may be significant.”

Hunt’s defection to the Suns was a major coup for the AFL and a massive boost to the fledgling club.

“He played a significant role in the formation of the Suns and I don’t want to downplay that,” McLachlan said.

“I’m not here to put distance between us and Karmichael.

“I’m not going to try and play that game of distance, because he was an influential leader at the club.”

McLachlan added he was not nervous about how the matter would play out.

“The reality is, there may be implications – I don’t know,” he said.

“I have no information that would say there is a problem at Gold Coast, but there may be.

“I have confidence in the culture and the playing group at that club.”

There are now rampant rumours in Queensland about which other sportspeople might be involved.

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Aussie MPs arrive safely in Tokyo

The federal Liberal member for Fadden, Stuart Robert, said he and four other MPs were on the train when the earthquake hit on Friday.

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Mr Robert said he was with Labor MPs Stephen Jones and Amanda Rishworth, Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash and Victorian Labor MP Natalie Hutchins.

The group was travelling on the bullet train from Kyoto in the south when the quake hit.

The train stopped about 200km outside Tokyo and remained there for more than five hours.

“When it (the quake) hit the train shook,” Mr Robert told Fairfax Radio.

“We then found out that the power station that supplies the power shut down.”

Mr Jones, the federal Labor member for Throsby in NSW, told Sky News the mood on the train was “remarkably calm” given the circumstances.

“You have got to hand it to the Japanese people. They are really taking this in their stride,” he said.

Ms Rishworth, the federal member for Kingston in South Australia, said commuters made phone calls, read books and worked on laptops.

“It’s a very serene sort of situation.”

After the train began moving, Mr Robert tweeted that the MPs planned to disembark in Tokyo and walk about three kilometres to the Australian embassy.

He said the streets of Tokyo were packed with people walking home and bumper-to-bumper cars.

“Tokyo is awash with people walking, trying to get home, completely awash with them,” he tweeted.

He said the group got off at Shinagawa station.

“People in their thousands everywhere, calm, but everywhere,” he tweeted.

Mr Robert’s latest tweets show that he is trying to find a way home.

“Looking at options to use Hanita airport as road still closed to main Tokyo airport. Situation very fluid,” he tweeted.

“Reports of over 5000 people sleeping on the floor of Toyko’s main airport, as people seeking a way home.”

“Road to the main Tokyo airport is cut due to a highway problem, so uncertain how to leave the city, working on options.”

Mr Robert mentioned that the Australian ambassador in Japan had given up his residence for the MPs on Friday night after they were stuck on the bullet train.

“Arrived at the embassy after a crazy walk through the streets,” he tweeted.

“This is truely a flood of humanity on the streets, unbelievable.

“On tokyo streets, this is insane, gridlock, humanity everywhere, very cold.”

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O’Farrell dares voters to dump him

NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell has urged voters to kick out a coalition government if it fails to deliver on its election campaign promises.

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With less the two weeks to go until the March 26 state election, the Labor government remains on the back foot after a series of polls showing Mr O’Farrell’s Liberal-Nationals opposition on track to win the poll in a landslide.

Premier Kristina Keneally, who is trying to stem the potential losses, is continuing to call for greater voter scrutiny of the coalition’s policies, raising the spectre of fewer government services.

But Mr O’Farrell said he could offer voters “believable and achievable” alternatives.

“Ultimately, if we don’t deliver, kick us out,” he said on Monday in response to a question during a live debate with Ms Keneally in central Sydney.

About 150 people watched the hour-long debate, hosted by Channel Seven, in Martin Place.

One man had asked why voters should trust either leader to fulfil promises, particularly after Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s broken pledge regarding a carbon tax.

“One of the challenges that we’re happy to accept is to restore confidence and trust in government – we understand that is important,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“That’s why we will deliver on the promises that we’ve announced.”

Ms Keneally and Mr O’Farrell clashed when the opposition leader accused the premier of giving permission for records to be destroyed in the lead-up to the election.

“That is utter rubbish, and I think the leader of the opposition knows that,” Ms Keneally said.

“The head of the public service has issued a memorandum on the careful handling of documents and I expect that to be followed to the letter.”

Mr O’Farrell said: “The careful handling through shredding machines?”

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party said on Monday it would exchange preferences with Reverend Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party in the upper house.

Labor campaign spokesman Luke Foley said the decision was part of an opposition strategy to win control of both houses of parliament.

“A coalition government with a massive majority, with Fred Nile calling the shots in the upper house, will turn back the clock on social progress and environmental protection, and cut public services and jobs,” Mr Foley said.

Before the debate, Mr O’Farrell headed to Sydney’s southwest to promote the coalition’s health plan.

The coalition is promising 550 more beds and 275 more nurses over and above that currently promised by Labor, at an additional cost of $340 million.

Following an agreement between the government and the state nurses’ union last month, Labor has promised an extra 1400 nursing jobs.

Ms Keneally also announced an expansion of the popular Metrobus network that will provide an extra 1430 bus services a week and three new routes in western Sydney.

On Monday afternoon, Ms Keneally’s Fairness for Families campaign bus was headed to the Hunter region and the town of Pokolbin in the heart of the wine district.

On the way she made a stop at Toukley, where she announced Labor’s fair-trading policy, including a plan to name-and-shame dodgy international traders selling goods online to NSW residents.

Ms Keneally will continue to travel in the Hunter region on Tuesday.

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Gillard says 1271 Aussies safe in Japan

As of early Sunday, there were 2331 Australians registered as being in Japan.

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Ms Gillard said the safety of 1271 has been confirmed.

An 8.9 magnitude quake hit Japan on Friday, unleashing a 10 metre high tsunami and leaving hundreds dead and thousands missing.

In the small port town of Minamisanriku alone, about 10,000 people are unaccounted for – more than half the population – public broadcaster NHK reported.

And now the Asian power is facing a nuclear emergency as cooling systems damaged by the quake failed at two nuclear reactors.

The government reacted quickly, offering whatever assistance Tokyo needed in reacting to what is the largest earthquake to hit the island nation.

The disaster comes after a busy season for Australian rescue workers.

This summer has seen Australian police, ambulance officers and volunteers dispersed across the nation to help in the aftermath of a cyclone, floods, bushfires and most recently an earthquake in New Zealand.

“Not everyone who travels registers” with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ms Gillard said.

She went on to say the government had no information to conclude there had been any Australians injured or killed.

“An additional 10 officials are being deployed from Canberra into our embassy in Tokyo,” Ms Gillard said.

A backlog of Australians at Tokyo airports trying to get out of the country had “been cleared”.

She reiterated the hotline for those seeking information on the emergency was 1300 555 135.

“Do not travel to this region.”

Australians near the Fukushima power plant, north of Tokyo, have been urged to listen to local authorities and stay away after an explosion there.

Ms Gillard said advice so far suggested the blast hit the wall of the nuclear reactor, rather than the core, and added there was no risk to Australia.

She defended her right to request urgent briefings from the Japanese government on the safety and technical aspects, as it works frantically to save lives.

“There is no risk to Australia,” Ms Gillard said.

“If there is an evacuation zone, then obey.”

Ms Gillard rejected ongoing assertions that Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd had a different agenda from hers.

“I have spoken to Kevin this morning,” Ms Gillard told the reporters.

Mr Rudd spoke with his Japanese counterpart on Sunday morning and “had a positive conversation” with him, Ms Gillard added.

Ms Gillard spoke of her shock as she watched the tragedy unfold.

“We have all seen images now of buildings swaying, of walls of water hitting buildings, of the rubble and devastation,” she said.

“Like all Australians, I’ve been truly shocked.”

She said it was highly likely that the Japanese authorities will ask for more help down the track, and that Australia stood ready.

She addressed the concern about fatigue-weary search and rescue teams that have been sent to Japan, on the back of their work in earthquake-hit Christchurch.

“We’re putting a big burden on their shoulder … but I specifically asked about fatigue and was assured they had been rested sufficiently.

“It’s what they’re trained to do, it’s what they want to do.”

The team of about 75 search and rescue workers are scheduled to leave the Amberley RAAF Base in Queensland at 3pm (AEST) on Sunday.

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Detention break-out may prompt government action

A small group of detainees escaped the Christmas Island Detention Centre on Saturday night, just hours after about 200 asylum seekers returned having previously broken out.

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The Department of Immigration and Citizenship and Serco are trying to encourage the group of less than 100 asylum seekers to return to the centre.

Tensions at the centre flared on Friday night when about 200 asylum seekers broke out of the main immigration detention facility and made their way to the airport on the other side of the island.

Hasan Chalawi, an asylum seeker in detention in Darwin, said he had been told the men destroyed doors fitted with electronic locks in the Aqua and Lilac sections of the centre.

“Then (at) eight o’clock on Friday night, smashing (sic) fences surrounding the detainees and a large number of them (left) towards the airport,” Mr Chalawi said.

He said several others went to the coast to try to be photographed by residents to highlight the “tragic situation of refugees in detention centres”.

“After that, a large portion of them felt fatigued and hunger, returned to the detention centre in the hope that they would return again to the airport to sit after the weekend.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Sunday told reporters in Canberra the situation was well in hand and there was no risk of losing track of any of the asylum seekers.

“Christmas Island is just that: it’s an island so there’s nowhere to go other than other parts of the island,” Ms Gillard said.

The government would investigate the incident to see if there had been any contractual breach by Serco and, if there had been, it would take appropriate action, she said.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the break-out was inevitable when there were thousands of people in detention. The only way to prevent further incidents was to have tougher border protection policies, he added.

“Where you’ve got thousands of people in immigration detention, there’s the risk of a break-out because people, understandably enough, would prefer not to be in detention,” Mr Abbott said in Sydney on Sunday.

“So, the best way to handle this is to stop the boats. The sooner we can stop the boats the better and that means significantly different, dramatically different policies from the government.”

Mr Chalawi said the asylum seekers decided to break out because they had “lost the hope of obtaining a protection visa because the number of asylum seekers is increasing”.

He said there were frustrations about delays in the processing of asylum claims, adding that nearly 1000 asylum seekers had been accepted as refugees but remain in detention.

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