Residents of the Woodside area have expressed outrage at federal government moves to place about 400 refugees – mainly families with children – at Inverbrackie in what was previously defence housing.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison took aim at the government saying it had the executive authority to establish the facility, consult no one and then describe their concerns as hysterical.
“I have no doubt that at the end of the day the government will be bloody-minded and seek to force its hand,” he told reporters in Canberra following a vote in the lower house earlier on Wednesday.
The Coalition lost a motion – 68-71 – that would have paved the way for a debate about the decision.
“It is disappointing that the independents, Labor, the Greens and the WA National member chose not to support that motion,” Mr Morrison said, adding it was their right to vote that way.
The government labelled the opposition move as a stunt and accused the coalition of being hypocritical by establishing detention centres in South Australian locations while in government.
Mr Morrison said the opposition would now press for a parliamentary inquiry.
Asked if he believed the government was putting the centres in Coalition electorates, Mr Morrison said the government had some explaining to do.
“Why were these sites selected and not others,” he said, querying whether there had been a comparative assessment of what the impact a centre would have on the local community.
“It is clear at this point that none of this has been assessed.”
Liberal MP Jamie Briggs, whose seat of Mayor takes in the Woodside area, said an inquiry would give residents the
opportunity to ask questions and have their concerns heard.
“This has to be done this week because the government is moving ahead at breakneck pace,” he said, adding the facility would be opening in December.
Coalition policy was to have asylum seekers processed offshore on Nauru.
“Our policy has proven that it would be far more effective than the ad hoc panicked emergency policy that this government is implementing,” Mr Briggs said.