Nauru planning to spring into action

CONSTRUCTION planning on Nauru for Labor's revived Pacific Solution is already under way with one of the main building contractors in the country offering to have a mini-village of six-bedroom homes built within weeks.

A military reconnaissance team from Australia arrived last night to survey sites for a tent city to serve as a temporary accommodation for the hundreds of asylum seekers and officials expected to swell the island's population.

But permanent housing is needed, with most of the old buildings used to house asylum seekers during the Howard era battered by the tropical climate.

The Houston report - adopted by Labor this week to break months of stalemate over boat arrivals - has estimated it will cost up to $1.4 billion to set up and run a centre on Nauru.

An immediate challenge will be ensuring a steady supply of electricity, despite recent upgrades to the island's main diesel power generator.

Some locals complained the asylum seeker camp was given privileged supplies of power and water from the desalination plants before 2008 when Labor shut it down.

Even without the centre the strain on basic infrastructure could be severe with power blackouts sometimes lasting 23 hours in a day.

''The place was on its knees previously, that is not the case now,'' said Paul Finch, owner of Central Meridian Construction.

Mr Finch employs about 45 local tradesman and also supplies LPG gas on the island, after moving from New Zealand 13 years ago and marrying a local.

He helped with the construction of the previous camp with modular houses intended to house athletes for a world weightlifting championship.

"It was the Club Med of refugee camps - they were very well cared for,'' he told The Age.

Mr Finch said he had enough modules on the island to quickly assemble between eight and 10 six-bedroom units.

The previous asylum seeker centre peaked with about 1000 occupants.

An Immigration Department spokesman said the government was waiting for the reconnaissance team to report before it could estimate the number of staff needed.

The story Nauru planning to spring into action first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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