Terrorists at Woomera
As part of John Howard's unconditional support for the United States in its battle against terrorism, detainees in the Woomera detention centre will be moved.
Instead, one of the harshest detainee centres in Australia will now be used to hold captured terrorists as the United States expands its war on terror.
As the United States extends its effort to encompass countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, is no longer capable of holding the expected influx of captured prisoners and terrorists.
Annoyed that the Australian government had already secured the use of all suitable islands for the detention of asylum seekers and queue jumpers, the United States had no option but to ask the Australian Prime Minister for help.
In a deal thrashed out in New York all asylum seekers housed in the Woomera detention centre are to be transferred to New Zealand.
Those who do not want to go to New Zealand will be offered $3000 to return to Afghanistan.
John Howard defended the decision. "We have to do all we can in the war on terror. The Americans need our help and it is our duty to give it to them. I can assure Australians that no asylum seekers and queue jumpers will be entering Australia. These people are terrorists and prisoners, and they will be treated as such."
The so called Pacific solution has been very expensive for Australia, and the Prime Minister insisted this new development will not cost the Australian tax payer another cent.
It is unlikely the transfer of control to the United States will be troublesome. The Woomera centre is already under the indirect control of a US private prison manager.
Australian tourism officials expressed concern at the move. "The federal government has embarked on a $10 million marketing campaign to lure American tourists to Australia," a tourism official said. "Its unlikely they are going to want to come here if they know we are harbouring hundreds of terrorists."
The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, mounted a vigorous defence of security procedures that will be used at Woomera
"The treatment of the detainees will be proper, humane, appropriate, and fully consistent with international conventions," Mr Rumsfeld said.
Amnesty International is however appalled. "We have seen what happened to asylum seekers at Woomera", a spokesperson said. "We can only imagine what will happen to real prisoners and terrorists as all the classic techniques employed to break the spirit of individuals ahead of interrogation are employed".
The decision has split the ALP who cannot decide whether to offer the government support or not.
"It's very hard to decide," said Simon Crean. "They are destroying what little chance I have of a decent photo opportunity with any of our troops."
It is likely that Australian David Hicks will be among the first prisoners when the US military takes over the Woomera centre.
Australians can breathe easily. It is unlikely that Osama Bin Laden will end up at Woomera. After a heavily targeted campaign by CNN the United States still has no idea where he is