Unaccompanied asylum seeker teens arrive in Leonora

A plane carrying 36 asylum seeker children has landed in Leonora in Western Australia's Goldfields.
The teenagers, aged between 14 and 17, were flown in from Christmas Island where they arrived without their parents.
The group, predominantly Afghan asylum seekers, waved to the waiting media as they were driven from the airport to the Leonora detention centre.
Thirty more unaccompanied minors are expected to arrive tomorrow.
It is not known how long the asylum seekers will be housed at the centre.
Leonora shire president Jeff Carter says he has serious reservations about their detention.
"I just think we don't try to put children in detention anywhere and to have 70 odd children locked up behind a fence, and you can't say they aren't," he said.
"I imagine DIAC (Department of Immigration and Citizenship) will have all the staff to help them but I just think they would be better off close to the community with their own ethnic background, with families to try and help advance the outcomes they try to do."
WA Premier Colin Barnett says while he does not agree with the detention of children, he believes the Leonora facility is acceptable and a better option than Malaysia.
"I do find it objectionable that children are in detention but I think the Leonora option is probably pretty acceptable," he said.
"There's a fair bit of movement in and out of that area; they can go to school; they can participate in community activities and the like.
"The one thing I am pleased about is that these teenagers are staying within Australia.
"I think what the Gillard government had proposed in sending young people like this unaccompanied to a third nation, Malaysia, is totally unacceptable."
The Federal Member for O'Connor, Tony Crook, says he supports the move to transfer them to the facility.
He is being briefed by the immigration department today.

About face

Jeff Carter says the Immigration Department has done an about-face on the centre after telling him as little as three weeks ago the facility would be shut down.
He says he only found out on the grapevine about the planned arrival of the children at the facility today.
Mr Carter says the centre has been empty because families have been moved to Darwin or South Australia over the past month.
He says when he last spoke to the department a month ago, they were planning to shut down the facility completely.
"I'd like to see DIAC be a bit more upfront of what they are up to," he said.
"Last time we had a meeting with the DIAC manager of the camp, the camp was going to close down.
"Now they are just bringing these juveniles here for reasons I don't know."
Mr Carter says he expects more consultation with the local community.
"They were going to keep a skeleton staff on just to close [it] properly and just move it on but that all seems to have changed now," he said.
The department has declined to comment.(ABC.NET.AU)


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