Then National, Wednesday 12th September, 2012
AUSTRALIA’S Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says a defence force and immigration department team is preparing to head to Manus Island to reopen the asylum seeker facility.
Bowen told reporters in Canberra on Monday 30 ADF personnel and two immigration department staff were preparing to head to PNG.
The minister signed an updated memorandum of understanding with Papua New Guinea on the weekend to reopen the Manus Island facility.
Bowen also has signed the legislative instrument designating Nauru as a regional processing country under the Migration Act.
The document will be tabled in parliament next week and require a resolution approving Nauru be passed by both houses.
Logistics group Transfield has been given the contract to run the Nauru facility, Bowen said.
He said the government also had contracted the Salvation Army to provide support services to asylum seekers on Nauru.
He said there had been extensive planning ahead of the transfer of people to Nauru.
“The governments of Australia and Nauru have been working towards a transfer to occur in the latter part of this week,” he said.
“After the parliament approval process is completed, I will be making further announcements about logistical arrangements.”
Bowen said the government had worked closely with its lawyers to minimise the prospects of a challenge in the courts.
“This is a very litigious area and I’m sure that lawyers on both sides will be examining their options.
“Our obligation is to ensure our case is on as strong a ground as possible.”
Pressed on who will decide which asylum seekers who have arrived since mid-August will be sent to Nauru, Bowen said it was up to him.
Under the Act, immigration department officials were obliged to take offshore any person who arrived by boat unless instructed to the contrary by the minister or his delegate under “public interest grounds.” – Skynews