I'm very disturbed by reports of actions of some within the facility. I want to say to people who are the transferees, people who are on Manus at the moment, that regardless of what you might be told by people within the centre, or advocates or people in the broader community, that somehow with a change of Minister, that the situation has changed in relation to Operation Sovereign Borders or the way in which in Government will deal with these matters, is absolutely wrong. I am absolutely determined to make sure that the integrity of our borders remains so. We as a Government are absolutely determined to make sure that people who arrive by boat will not be settled in this country. We are determined to make sure that we will provide whatever support is required to our partners in PNG and I want to say thank you to the PNG Government who operate the regional processing centre the Government will provide whatever support we possibly can to the Papua New Guinean Government and to the authorities there. But my message today is very clear, to the transferees on Manus and in other facilities: that is, whilst there has been a change of Minister, the absolute resolve of me as the new Minister and of the Government is to make sure that for those transferees, they will never arrive in Australia. They will never be settled in Australia. That's the commitment we have given over a long period of time and that remains absolutely the case. So whilst people who might hold themselves out to be your friends are telling you that somehow the situation or the approach of the Government has changed, they are not telling you the truth. And I want to reinforce that message to you today.
I want to confirm that there have been a number of incidents of self-harm within Manus and that the authorities are providing medical assistance and offers of support and medical assistance to those people. Some of those transferees have taken up that offer. Others have rejected that offer. The Government of PNG, as the managers of the regional processing centre are providing support otherwise and obviously the providers at the centre are providing security and they are dealing with the situation on the ground. So I wanted to provide you with that update. I'm happy to take any questions.
Journalist: Could you give us the medical condition of the two Iranians who appear to have swallowed razor blades?
Peter Dutton: I won't comment in relation to individual cases. The general point that I would make is that where there has been an attempt of self-harm, there has been an offer of medical assistance. In at least one case a person has been transferred for x-rays and for more specialist medical attention, that has been provided and that support will be provided where necessary. That is the situation as a general statement.
Journalist: Can you give an Idea of how many asylum seekers have collapsed?
Peter Dutton: Well again, I am not going to go into what are the specifics of operational matters on the ground. Obviously I am very concern with what I am seeing and what is being reported to me in relation to activities on the ground. And again I would say to ring leaders and to people outside of the facility who believe that they are helpful in agitating for noncompliance that they are doing exactly the wrong thing. As Minister I'm absolutely determined to make sure that people come to our country in the appropriate and lawful way. And for those transferees at Manus, under a new Minister, our resolve is at least as strong as it was under Minister Morrison. I repeat that today for the benefit of those who are either advocating or providing advice to people to act in a non-compliant way, it is unacceptable and the Government won't tolerate this.
Journalist: Can you give us an idea of the extent of the process?
Peter Dutton: This has been a developing situation over the course of the last day or so. I am concerned at reports within the last hour or so about activity and the approach of some on the ground within the centre. But we have full support. We're offering full support to the PNG Government. We have faith in the providers of the services there to deal with what is a very fluid situation on the ground.
Journalist: Are you concerned these tensions are mirroring what happened a year ago when there was a riot, and Reza Berati was killed?
Peter Dutton: I'm very concerned that people somehow, particularly those that might be on mainland Australia are providing advice or people from elsewhere, including a small element within the Manus facility itself , providing advice to transferees that somehow, if they behave in a non-compliant way or they change their actions, somehow that will change their outcome.
It will not. It will not, absolutely it will not.
That is the determination of the Government and with me as the new Minister, those transferees will not be settled in Australia. And I ask people to listen to the directions that they are being given by the staff and by the officers on the ground, so that we can deal with issues peacefully. We're happy to negotiate and discuss the situation, but the behaviour of non-compliance in particular is not going to change the outcome that some people seek.
Journalist: What triggered this protest?
Peter Dutton: I am not going to speculate on that. All I can say is that we're confident that there is appropriate action being taken on the ground to deal with the circumstances, as they unfold. They change quite rapidly and we're very conscious of that. But my very clear message today is to people that would seek to misinform those transferees, that somehow if their behaviour is changed or that they become non-compliant, that somehow that will result in them settling in Australia. It will not. And I repeat that to the people who are in Manus at the moment, but to centres otherwise, that is a very clear, strong and determined message from me as Minister. And that will not change.
Journalist: Are you looking at boosting security in any way or reviewing management at the facility?
Peter Dutton: Again, I'm very confident on the briefings I've had that the appropriate security measures are in place. The contingencies are really well worked through. The Department on my judgment in the short period that I've been in this portfolio, but certainly over a long period of time, my observation has been that the Department deals with these issues very, very ably and obviously the Manus Regional Processing Centre under the control of the Papua New Guinea Government is something that we have great faith in as well in terms of the management of the PNG Government and the providers at that facility. So I'm happy with that the contingencies are in place.
Journalist: The asylum seekers are protesting against the lengthy waiting times. Do you believe that those two things are unacceptable at the moment?
Peter Dutton: I regret the fact that Labor opened our borders and they allowed boats to sail into Australia in an unprecedented number. Now, in a number of areas we have to clean up Labor's mess and people know that in relation to Operation Sovereign Borders that we've been able to stop the boats and as Minister I'm working with General Campbell and others to make sure that we keep the boats stopped. That's the absolute priority of me as Minister and the Government as large. We will continue to do that. But yes we do have a very difficult situation to deal with because over the course of Mr Rudd then Ms Gillard then again Mr Rudd as Prime Minister, they opened our borders and people surrendered to the people smugglers in a way that we will now have to deal with. That's what we're in the process of doing, but our resolve will not be swayed one bit by a change in behaviour. Those transferees at Manus will not be coming to Australia.
Journalist: Will you be going to Manus Island yourself?
Peter Dutton: Yes, I will, at some point. I will be going to Nauru. But my intention is also to go to a number of other neighbours. I have already spoken by telephone to some of my counterparts in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
Journalist: Are you concerned that there may be more deaths at Manus Island?
Peter Dutton: Well, I'm very concerned that somehow, people are conveying a message that through non-compliant behaviour, by refusal to take food or water, that somehow that behaviour will change the outcome for those individual cases in terms of their desire to be settled in Australia. If people are acting on that advice, then they should dismiss that advice and they should listen to the advice being provided to them by the providers of the centre and the people who are on the ground in terms of the staff. I cannot reinforce that point enough.
Journalist: Is in just a try-on because there's a new Minister?
Peter Dutton: I think this is a very serious situation. I'm worried about developments over the course of the last 24 hours. I'm concerned about what I've learnt in the last hour or so. And the situation is volatile there's no question about that. But I would say to those people that are stirring trouble, advocates who may be well intentioned that they're advising in some way or ring leaders in the minority within the centre who are advising some of the transferees to change their behaviour or to misbehave, that information is dead wrong. It is causing trouble. It's causing unnecessary trouble. We want to provide support and assistance to people in a very difficult situation. But this Government will not change its stance in relation to these matters.
Journalist: What have you learned in the last hour? What's the new development?
Peter Dutton: Well, the situation as I say, as is always the case in these circumstances, can change very quickly on the ground. The advice that I've had in relation to the movements of people on the ground is that there are a number of people involved in these activities. There is support being provided to those who are engaged in self-harm and the Government will make sure that we continue to provide the support. We're certainly not swaying in our support one bit. We are rock solid behind the PNG Government and the work they're doing in the Manus regional centre that hasn't changed.
Journalist: Sounds like it's a tinderbox at the moment?
Peter Dutton: I think it's volatile. I think it is incumbent upon those people who would seek to create trouble to desist from that. That would be the best action that they could take. But the Government of PNG, the providers at the facility have all sorts of contingencies in place and we'll deal with those issues.
Journalist: So no-one has died at this stage?
Peter Dutton: No.
Journalist: To other issues. Would you consider intervening in the case of a Kurdish Iranian asylum seeker who has had his application denied despite a bravery award for saving a drowning woman?
Peter Dutton: Well as I say, and as I have said publically before. These are matters that have been dealt with by the previous Minister and the advice available to me at this point in time is that unless new evidence or circumstances come to my attention, then there's not a capacity to act in relation to that matter.
Journalist: Just on the home-grown extremist Suhan Raman, was the Australian Government aware of him and whether his passport has been cancelled yet?
Peter Dutton: I don't have any comments to make in relation to specific matters otherwise. If we can provide information, we will.
Journalist: Is there anything you can do to prevent these home-grown extremists from moving overseas to Syria, for example?
Peter Dutton: Look, the Government is determined, the National Security Committee of Cabinet is determined to do whatever we can through the assistance of law enforcement, border protection, as well as our intelligence agencies to deal with these issues at home and to deal with them where appropriately abroad. The Prime Minister has been absolutely rock solid in relation to dealing with these issues. The Government will do whatever it takes to keep Australians safe.
Journalist: This is off portfolio, but with regards to the Medicare package, did the Government make a mistake by trying to rush in the cuts, the Medicare rebate over the summer holiday period?
Peter Dutton: In relation to health, I will leave to the Health Minister. Thank you very much.