The Australian Government defended the $185 million spent to reopen the Christmas Island immigration detention centre, but subsequently recommended that it soon be closed. The centre was reopened following the passing of the Medevac legislation, with 140 contractors and 14 medical staff, however there are yet to be any detainees transferred there. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg claimed the expense was justified as the centre sent ‘a deterrent to people who would try to game the system’.
An Australian Paladin employee on Manus Island was charged with sexual offences against two PNG women. It is understood that, prior to his arrest, Paladin management took no action following one woman’s reporting of the incident. The man received bail however has been ordered not to leave Manus Island, including surrendering his passport. The matter has been adjourned to May for a final ruling.
Malaysian authorities fear a new wave of people smuggling by sea after 37 people were found on a beach in Northern Malaysia. It is believed that they are either from Bangladesh or Rohingya from Myanmar. Meanwhile, Bangladesh has sent armed border guards to patrol its southern border with Myanmar, stirring diplomatic tensions.