CHILDREN at Pontville detention centre will not be exempt from the new government's tough rules for asylum seeker boat arrivals but no decision has been made about the future of the centre itself, a Coalition spokesman has said.
Brighton Mayor Tony Foster has urged the incoming government to keep the detention centre open, saying it creates 300 jobs and brings $1.3 million to the local economy.
``I hope the Coalition don't just jump in and decide to close it for political reasons,'' Cr Foster said.
As of last week there were 223 unaccompanied minors at the centre, most of whom attend schools in the community.
Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said he stood by comments made last year that the detention centre should never have been opened.
Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said in a pre-election debate that unaccompanied minors would not be exempt from new immigration rules, which includes the introduction of temporary protection visas for people found to be genuine refugees and anti-family reunion clauses.
Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott has vowed to implement the policy in his first days in government.
Barrister and refugee advocate Julian Burnside said the new policy was cruel.
``To say to a child that you are a refugee, we will protect you, but we won't let you back with your parents is nothing short of cruelty,'' Mr Burnside said.
Mr Burnside said the policy meant that even if a child in Pontville was granted refugee status, they would not be reunited with their family unless they left Australia or their family also arrived by boat.
He said the argument run by both sides of politics that the tough laws were to prevent people drowning at sea was ludicrous, because it only affected people who had already survived the boat trip.
``What we are trying to do is say, `Don't risk your life at sea, stay home and risk your life there because then we won't be troubled by it,' '' he said.
Mr Burnside will speak about the future of Australia's asylum policy at the University of Tasmania in Hobart on Thursday night.