The National, Tuesday 4th September, 2012
PNG will sign an agreement with Australia to establish a permanent asylum-seeker centre on Manus Island, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said yesterday.
O’Neill said on his return from the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in the Cook Islands that he was able to discuss the issue of establishing a permanent centre on Manus for those seeking asylum in Australia.
He said that he held several bilateral talks with fellow Prime Ministers and heads of delegations at the forum including Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
He said that he discussed the Manus asylum-seeker processing facility during the meeting.
He said that he was happy of the outcome of the meeting and
that several official talks were progressing before the agreement with
Australia was signed.
“We (PNG) have a bigger player in the region in terms of population, landmass and economy. We have to help to establish a centre (for asylum-seekers) on Manus Island,” he said.
He said that Government officials including the chief migration officer were in Australia with their counterparts to work through the details.
He said that the Manus provincial government would be fully consulted in the process.
He said that the National Executive Council has approved the centre and the Government’s was committed to ensuring a permanent centre was established with all development issues considered.
O’Neill said the asylum issue and other development issues will be discussed during a ministerial forum in October.