AUSTRALIA’S immigration minister Peter Dutton has indicated that hundreds of asylum-seekers could be left to resettle in Papua New Guinea when the Manus Island detention centre closes at the end of October.
Mr Dutton said that, under the deal struck by the Rudd government in 2013, PNG had a responsibility to settle any genuine refugees not taken by the US under a controversial agreement struck with the Obama administration.
“We’ll be withdrawing the assets from Manus Island,’’ Mr Dutton told Sky News. “We are not going to have a detention centre there for other uses. We’re not going to have facilities being used or repurposed. The centre will be dismantled.”
Australia has agreed to close the Manus Island detention centre by 31 October, after pressure from PNG when the country’s Supreme Court ruled last April that it breached the PNG constitution.
Mr Dutton said PNG had already resettled 36 people who had been found to be refugees.
“They are not coming to Australia and the advocates can bleat all they want, they can protest all they want, we have been very clear,” he said.
“Those people are not going to settle in our country because that would restart the people trade, and we are not going to allow women and children to drown at sea again.”