After the influential decision of the Supreme Court ruling the Manus Island detention centre as illegal and unconstitutional, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has come out saying that such a detention centre will close in light of such a verdict.
The decision throws spanners into the Turnbull government’s offshore detention regime, thrusting the border protection system high onto the political agenda, just weeks out from an expected election campaign. It is understood more than 850 men are currently housed in the facility, and with numbers extremely maxed out at the Nauru detention centre, it is unclear what the right solution for such an issue is.
In a statement, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the government would work with PNG to address the issues raised by the court ruling, but insisted that Manus Island detainees “will not be settled in Australia”.
“The Government has not altered on its position that people who have attempted to come illegally by boat to Australia and who are now in the Manus facility will not be settled in Australia”, and with such a stance, it’s almost questionable what solution will ultimately be reached.
From statements of the PNG Prime Minister, it is quite adamant that such a closure will occur; yet It is not yet clear when the facility would shut. Intense pressure currently exists on the Australian government to deal with the problem – either by moving the asylum seekers and refugees to another location, such as Nauru or Christmas Island, or finding a third country to house them.
Mr O’Neill said the centre’s closure would have a negative effect on the Manus Island economy and the government will work with Australia to minimise damage to businesses and workers.
“I have considered the ruling of the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea and welcome this outcome,” Mr O’Neill said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Respecting this ruling, Papua New Guinea will immediately ask the Australian government to make alternative arrangements for the asylum seekers.”
Only once negotiations end will it evident what will become of such detainees, but with Mr O’Neil welcome such a decision and following it, even to the detriment of the island’s economy, it shows a positive step towards humane treatment of those trying to settle in foreign countries.