Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says spending $185 million reopening Christmas Island sent a signal to asylum seekers and refugees trying to game the system.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has defended spending $185 million reopening an immigration detention centre on Christmas Island only to close it again.
The federal government reopened the mothballed facility after legislation passed against its will, making it easier for sick refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to seek medical transfers.
The government warned the laws would open the floodgates to hundreds of people.
However, just one person has been evacuated since the laws took effect six weeks ago.
The individual bypassed Christmas Island and came straight to Australia, because the level of medical care they needed was only available on the mainland.
Mr Frydenberg dismissed suggestions reopening Christmas Island was an alarmist and expensive mistake.
"You could see it on the other way," he told the ABC's Insiders program on Sunday.
"Which is the so-called emergency that everybody else was talking about hadn't eventuated because what we've done by reopening Christmas Island is send a deterrent to people who would try to game the system."
The government intends to repeal the medical evacuation laws and close Christmas Island if it wins the upcoming election.
"Our policy is to close it in July that's a publicly stated position and we'll do so given the first opportunity," Mr Frydenberg said.