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19 August 2011


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Powes Parkop weighs into the debate.



A prominent Papua New Guinea politician says he will take legal action to stop Manus Island detention centre being reopened to house asylum seekers.

National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop, a member of Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's coalition government, says a detention centre contradicts PNG's law and culture.

"You cannot detain people here in PNG - even if they are aliens from outer space - we cannot detain them indefinitely," Mr Parkop says.

"That's the law in PNG. It isn't in our culture to lock people up without a charge.

"So absolutely I will take legal action. I am a member of this government, but the government must obey the law."

Mr Parkop said PNG cannot change its laws to suit a "good friend" like Australia, and worried it would set a legal precedent for detaining people without charge in the 37-year-old democracy.

"I call on both governments to obey the law and ... not make a deal for conveniences sake."

Update - ABC reports today at 7:30 pm "Papua New Guinea's government has confirmed it's willing to host a processing centre for asylum seekers who try to reach Australia by boat."

But the question remains, is PNG willing to be seen as Australia's dumping ground for asylum seekers, because Australia is trying to avoid it's international obligations (the UN convention on refugees) AND avoid domestic political embarrassment over 'boat people'?

I'm sure Martyn has some interesting views on this.

I see that with the release of the experts report into Asylum seeker policy, Gillard has thrown her weight behind reopening Manus and Nauru detention centres. Her response came just hours after the report was made public.

I wonder if she has actually consulted the new Government in PNG? Considering the vast changes in the composition of the PNG Government, how can Australia blandly assume that PNG will just toe the line on reopening the Manus centre?

Smacks to me of Australia taking PNG for granted (again).

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