Footage of derelict sites shot to deter boats

THE Immigration Department has been gathering footage on Nauru and Manus Island for ''confronting'' videos aimed at discouraging asylum seekers from getting on boats - even though the facilities where people would be housed have not yet been refurbished.

As the ninth boat arrived after the federal government's announcement of its new offshore processing policies a week ago, a department spokesman confirmed video producers were part of the reconnaissance teams visiting Nauru and Manus Island.

The teams, which include army engineers, Immigration Department officials and Australian Federal Police, are due to arrive home today.

The Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, said he expects the teams' reports will be finished quickly, after which it will be clearer how much time is needed before asylum seekers can be sent to Nauru and Manus Island for processing.

''We will be in a position very early this week to consider their reports and then start establishing temporary and subsequently permanent facilities. It will be costly,'' he told Channel Ten's Meet the Press yesterday.

Images of the derelict sites on Nauru and Manus Island, dating from the Howard government's ''Pacific solution'', show dilapidated and overgrown buildings.

The Immigration Department spokesman said the department would produce videos titled Australia by boat? No advantage. These would be distributed through social media as part of a ''confronting, graphic way'' of warning asylum seekers not to attempt to come by boat.

He refused to say what type of material had been shot or to comment on whether the portrayals of Nauru and Manus Island would be accurate.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said she was not surprised there was a surge in the number of arrivals during the past week.

Since the government announced it would resume processing asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island, 475 people have arrived on nine boats, according to government figures.

''I am not at all surprised that the people-smugglers are running around saying to people 'move now, get in quick, circumstances are changing','' Ms Gillard told Sky News's Australian Agenda.

''That is to be expected, and I think we are seeing some of that evidence in boat arrivals now.''

The government is eager to spread the message as quickly as possible that Australia is taking a much tougher line on asylum seekers who arrive by boat.

Ms Gillard said repeatedly yesterday that ''this is a tough policy''. Asked whether people could find themselves on Manus Island and Nauru for ''many years'', she replied: ''Yes.''

The Greens' immigration spokeswoman, Sarah Hanson-Young, told the ABC's Insiders program that there was ''a willingness in the Australian community to come up with a better and a more compassionate approach''.

The story Footage of derelict sites shot to deter boats first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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