Resources benefit PNG but people shape the benefits

PNG jacks up & Australia backs off sending refugees to Manus

Scott Morrison (Wolter Peeters, Fairfax)KEITH JACKSON

AUSTRALIA has decided not to send any more asylum seekers to Manus Island in what appears to be a response to the Papua New Guinea government’s reluctance to resettle refugees on its soil.

Three months ago Australian prime minister Tony Abbott announced that asylum seekers would be resettled in PNG, but - showing characteristic 'drift' - the O'Neill government did not respond to the decision.

Of the asylum seekers on Manus whose claims have been processed, more than half have been assessed as genuine refugees.

But the PNG government has remained mute on their resettlement.

Now controversial Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison (pictured) has ordered that asylum seekers be sent to Nauru.

The ‘PNG Solution’ has turned out to be a particularly nasty piece of Australian public policy and a source of great shame for many Australians.

Originally nutted out between Kevin Rudd and Peter O’Neill, the policy resulted in the death of an asylum seeker, the injuring of scores more  and psychological and physical damage to many others.

Despite this lamentable track record, Mr Morrison claims success for his policy.

There are presently 1,084 asylum seekers on Manus.


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Peter Kranz

Hundreds of inmates have gone on hunger strike at the Manus detention centre. Some have attempted self-harm by sewing their lips together and swallowing detergent and razor blades.

At first the Australian Government denied there were any such problems, but repeated reports have confirmed that the situation is extremely serious and the new minister Peter Dutton is 'looking into the matter.'

Another riot seems imminent.

The PNG Government has just issued a statement denying that local police stormed the Manus Island detention centre (Fairfax Media reports that it was the emergency response team from Wilson Security who are sub-contractors to the Australian Government) as the number of asylum seekers staging a hunger strike grows to over 500 and water has been reportedly cut off in parts of the facility, forcing inmates to drink from drains.

It is believed a number of asylum seekers have barricaded themselves inside their compounds as part of the protest.

PNG's Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato calls the refugee advocates 'agitator groups' which doesn't seem calculated to calm things down. Refugee advocates have called for UN intervention.

Reports state that a number of protesting asylum seekers were taken to the Chauka compound over the weekend (think the cooler in The Great Escape), which is a smaller compound used to discipline asylum seekers acting aggressively.

Inmates also claimed to have received death threats against those seeking to move to a half-way house in Lorengau.

Bernard Yegiora

UNHCR's pin up boy Albert Eintsein provides a rosy narrative of the advantages of settling refugees in any country. PNG will miss out on the type of impact, positive in nature, the refugees will bring to the country.

I watched on SBS news <> how those Tamil asylum seekers were used to clean up regional south-east Queensland. They did the dirty jobs that Australians did not like doing.

Kevin O'Regan

Hey Felix, it took two prime ministers to tango....

Felix Baraka

Australia, I beg you to stop your aid diplomacy dilemma. PNG is not your puppet, OK?

Nicholas Laki

Papua New Guinea never had the "heart" or a genuine cause to accept the asylum seekers in her land. It was all for wrong reasons.

That is, there were incentives for Peter O'Neill's government (rebuilding the Angau Hospital and other huge infrastructure projects) should it successfully resettle all in PNG soil.

Initially the constitution of the country didn't have the provision to facilitate. However the government used it's numerical strength to pass laws in retrospect to validate.

But frankly, in bringing in asylum seekers and wanting to provide high level service and care, the PNG government has failed terribly and appallingly to manage it's own citizens.

How can it's manage foreigners when PNGns are on the street without proper care and services in the villages? PNG doesn't even have a proper record for its population boom yet - it's claimed we are now at seven million.

Look, it was genuine and heartfelt concern but the way it was handled was dubious. It looks like a cargo cult scam that Australia wanted to lure money to solve a problem that PNG doesn't have the capacity to solve successfully.

Peter Kranz

This puts things into perspective.

Italy rescues 5,200 asylum seekers just since last Thursday.

And Australia relaxes immigration laws to allow cheap migrant workers into the top end.

Warren Dutton

An Australian Prime Minister has the right to ask PNG to help it process its boat people, for a quid pro quo.

It is immoral for any Australian and any PNG Prime Minister to agree that after being processed any (boat people) refugees should be resettled in PNG.

PM Rudd may not have had the luxury of being able to make moral decisions. PM Abbott does not have the luxury of being able to make immoral ones!

Warren Dutton

As I said at the time of the Rudd - O'Neill announcement: the "deal" between PM Rudd and PM O'Neil, is the most amoral ever between our two countries.

To assume that refugees can in effect be guaranteed PNG citizenship (whether they want it or not) is in any way in accordance with PNG Constitution and Laws of PNG is unconscionable.

That any two leaders of any "democratic" countries could make such a deal on their desperate unconsidered whims should shame the citizens of both countries.

Both Australia and PNG must work together to find acceptable Third Country Resettlement of all genuine refugees."

Giorgio Licini

Yes! Manus? Wrong solution to a genuine and heartbreaking problem!

2000 refugees have perished in the Mediterranean sea over the last few months. Don't want to see the same thing happen between the Indonesian coast and Christmas Island.

Australia and other governments in the region need solidarity, help and support on how to address the serious issue.

But how can you think of resettling thousands of foreigners in PNG? Where? To do what? Under what level of security, health and education for the children? And what about family reunification?

Now Australia will take genuine refugees out of Manus one by one in a quiet way and send home those for whom it is safe enough to do so.

Then they have probably to agree with Indonesia to establish processing centres back there for those rescued at sea and work with the United Nations either for their resettlement or repatriation.

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