The Immigration Department has confirmed that three more people escaped from Sydney’s Villawood detention centre early this morning.
A spokesman has confirmed that the three Chinese men absconded from the facility at about 5am (AEDT). It is believed they climbed over a fence.
The department spokesman says New South Wales Police have been informed and are helping to find the trio.
Two of the men had been detained for over-staying temporary visas while the third is said to be an unauthorised air arrival.
Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the company which manages the facility, Serco, must take some responsibility for the escapes.
“This facility is managed by Serco, they are paid good money to manage it, and it is their responsibility to manage it properly, including making sure that people who are in detention stay in detention,” she said.
The Immigration Department spokesman says the men are not considered to pose a threat to the community, and are not part of the group of 89 failed asylum seekers who were moved from Christmas Island to Villawood over the weekend.
Those men – from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran – had been rejected as refugees and were being transferred to Villawood while the Federal Government arranges to send them home.
The Opposition has been quick to attack the Government over the transfer of the asylum seekers, saying the move signals the end of offshore processing.
It also says their arrival on the mainland could give the asylum seekers new rights.
But Immigration Minister Chris Evans says they are still classed as offshore arrivals.
Thirty asylum seeker boats have arrived in Australian waters this year.
The department spokesman says extra staff were put on duty in each of Villawood Immigration Detention Centre’s compounds to cope with the detainees arriving from Christmas Island.
An investigation is underway into how the Chinese men were able to escape.