Asylum issue goes to cabinet

National, Normal

The National, Thursday, May 12, 2011

FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Don Polye says the possibility of setting up a permanent regional asylum processing centre on Manus is now before the cabinet.
He said during a mediaconference at his parliament office that he had spoken to Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and that he supported establishing the permanent centre in PNG as it could play a major role in the region.
Polye said as the minister responsible, he wanted to see among the talks the inclusion of an economic development package, adding that among them could be the financing aspects, maintenance, capacity-building and infrastructure.
He said other issues that needed to be considered included the welfare of the people of Manus.
Polye said all other social issues would be looked at.
He said it was an important initiative and the new centre “will promote regional cooperation in line with the Bali process which basically calls for cooperation among countries in our region on people smuggling and irregular migration into the region”.
“This arrangement will provide a good opportunity for closer cooperation between our governments and enhance our existing institutional relations with respect to immigration and border security.”
Polye said PNG and Australia had a long and shared immigration border and security arrangement enhanced and strengthened over many years.
“Through the PNG-Australia bilateral partnership, the PNG immigration and citizenship service and the Australian department of immigration and citizenship have developed effective institutional linkages, including support under the Strongim Guvman Program, development of an enhanced border management IT system and the capacity development assistance in a range of operational and policy related areas.”
He said as part of the long bilateral history, the Australian government had called on PNG to participate in a regional arrangement to tackle irregular movement of people within the Asia-Pacific region.
He said cabinet had yet to take a decision on the matter and he could not elaborate further.