Permanent asylum centre discussed

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The National, Friday 30th of November, 2012

A PERMANENT regional asylum seekers’ processing centre is being discussed by Australia and Papua New Guinea and Manus is again the preferred site.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill broached the subject yesterday at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, where he gave an address on “Papua New Guinea in the Asian century”.
O’Neill said the idea had been discussed with his Australian counterpart, Julia Gillard, and that it had been agreed to in principle.
He anticipated the subject would be discussed in detail at next week’s joint ministerial conference in Port Moresby. It would also go before the Pacific Islands Forum for wider consultation.
The Manus provincial government and landowners would be consulted on this new development, O’Neill said.
He reiterated his earlier stance that the centre would be managed entirely by Australia but there would be annual reviews conducted on humanitarian grounds.
He said he wanted to see that processing was done as quickly as possible in a humane manner and families, children in particular, should not be kept too long.
There is growing concern, particularly among human rights groups in Australia, at the suggestion by the Australian government that asylum seekers could be kept up to five years on Manus as a way of dissuading others who might want to migrate to Australia using asylum as an excuse.
Landowners had asked for A$100 million (K219.3 million) in sub-contracts in exchange and the provincial government has protested the lack of consultation in the initial stages.