Children to be sent alone to Nauru

Hard line ... asylum seekers arriving at Christmas Island on Monday. The Immigration Minister said exemptions for women or children would be exploited by smugglers. Photo: Sharon Tisdale
WOMEN and children, including unaccompanied minors, will be among those sent to Nauru and Manus Island for processing under a hardline approach aimed at sending a message to people smugglers that there will be no exemptions.

With the first batch of about 40 asylum seekers to be flown this week to Nauru, where a temporary tent city has been erected, the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said he would not be issuing any blanket exemptions to people sent offshore because these would be exploited by the people smugglers.
In the past, when unaccompanied minors were exempted, people smugglers sent boatloads of minors, knowing they would be accepted. The minors would then act as ''anchors'' and bring over family members.
Mr Bowen acknowledged the sensitivities involved with sending away woman and children and he will have the discretion to assess individual cases. But he said he was not going to issue a general exemption for anybody.
''Under the act, everybody who arrives in Australia is eligible to be transferred to Nauru and Papua New Guinea,'' he said.
''We cannot allow people smugglers to be out there saying: 'Look, if you send your children, we'll get them there and then they can be the anchor for you.'''
It is understood the first group of asylum seekers to be sent away this week will be all single men. They will be outnumbered by 90 Australian Federal Police officers, an indication the government is keen to avoid unrest.
But the government is eager for images of the first few transfers to be widely distributed to try and stop the record influx of boats.
The government has a strategy to publicise the first few transfers in Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as the primary source countries of Sri Lanka, Pakistan Iraq and Iran.
The Nauruan Foreign Affairs Minister, Kieren Keke, told the ABC's 7.30 program last night that he would like a pause after the first asylum seekers had arrived to ensure all the necessary systems, such as catering and waste disposal, were operating effectively.
Significantly, he said Nauru was ''comfortable'' with the prospect of the asylum seekers spending up to five years there under the Gillard government's ''no advantage'' protocols, which ensure anyone making a journey by boat will be resettled no quicker than if they had stayed in a camp.
Mr Keke said asylum seekers would be allowed to mix with residents and be given as normal a life as possible.
This morning, the Senate approved the designation of Nauru as a regional processing country, 49 votes to 9.
An amendment moved by the Coalition to reinstate temporary protection visas and adopt a policy of turning boats around was unsuccessful (29 votes to 35). Another amendment, moved by the Greens to place a one year time limit on detention in Nauru was also voted down (10 to votes to 45).
Last night another boat, carrying 65 people, was intercepted in Australian waters. The boat was the 10th since Friday and 2215 asylum seekers on 38 boats have arrived since August 13. That was the day the government announced the ''Pacific solution'' and warned any arriving after then risked being sent to Nauru or Manus Island.
Both centres, when complete, will only have a combined capacity of 2100, meaning they would be full already if everyone was sent there.
The first few transfers to temporary accommodation on Nauru will be groups of people who have been hand-picked by department authorities.
The Sydney Morning Herald understands that once the system is operating, Mr Bowen will draw the line after which everyone arriving by boat will be sent offshore.
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