Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Media release

Manus RPC closure

The Coalition Government has had a clear and consistent policy since coming to office; no-one who attempts to enter Australia illegally by boat will ever settle here.

Six hundred men at the Manus Regional Processing Centre (RPC) in Papua New Guinea  who attempted to enter Australia illegally via people smuggler’s boats – now aided and abetted by so called ‘advocates’ and the Greens – are trying to force a change to that policy.

They will not.

The Illegal Maritime Arrivals (IMAs) who are refusing to leave the RPC have been aware since May this year that the PNG authorities would close the RPC today.

Indeed the Government of Papua New Guinea indicated from mid-2016 that it would move to close the RPC.

All have been informed for a considerable period of time that there is safe and secure alternate accommodation where health and other services will be maintained.

Refugees can relocate to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre or West Lorengau Haus.

Those who have been found not to be refugees should relocate to Hillside Haus.

The constant claims of IMAs and advocates’ about their situation in Manus are nothing more than subterfuge.

They have long claimed the Manus RPC was a ‘hellhole’ – but the moment it was to be closed they demanded it be kept open.

They claim to fear for their safety if they leave the RPC – but held no such fears for a long period of time as around 200 of them each and every day travelled to and from Lorengau township, some staying in the town for extended periods of time.

Claims by Greens Senator McKim that there is no alterative accommodation outside the RPC are false.

Senator McKim’s duplicity is breathtaking.

He sat through Senate Estimates hearings a week ago where officials from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection provided information in great detail about the facilities and services that would continue to be provided on Manus Island, but chooses to ignore that factual information in favour of inaccurate and incorrect claims – it would seem – to incite trouble.

Senator McKim claims to care for these men, but continues to provide them with false information and uses them for cheap political stunts to build his public profile.

At the same time he insults the Government and people of PNG with whom we have worked cooperatively on regional processing for a number of years.

The Regional Processing Centre will close. PNG’s processing of these IMAs has been completed and there are clear pathways ahead of them.

Those found to be refugees can settle within Papua New Guinea as agreed under the arrangement struck between the previous Rudd Labor Government and the Government of Papua New Guinea in 2013. The Australian Government has provided reasonable alternate pathways for those who do not wish to resettle in PNG; specifically they can apply for resettlement in the United States or apply to move to Nauru.

Those who have been found not to be refugees are in PNG illegally and should return to their country of origin as hundreds already have done. The Governments of PNG and Australia will facilitate voluntary returns.

These people sought to subvert Australia’s laws by paying people smugglers to bring them illegally to Australia by boat – none will ever resettle here.