PNG solution a bombshell

Editorial, Normal

The National, Wednesday July 24th, 2013

 LAST week’s bombshell by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that all illegal asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australian waters would be sent to Papua New Guinea for processing and possible resettlement was certainly something out of the blue. 

The news sent ripples through the Pacific and says a lot and, paradoxically, not a lot about Australia’s handling of the issue. 

On Nauru, Australia’s other processing facility in the Pacific, a riot broke out among the all-male detainees when news of the latest development reached them. 

The message here is very clear – that is Australia will not allow any queue jumpers onto its shores. 

The alternative is Papua New Guinea. 

The surprising thing was that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was so ready and willing to allow Australian government policy to influence Papua New Guinea in such a big way. 

Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that we are a country capable of taking in an influx of refugees, big or small, and cater for their needs. 

It is laughable that a country such as PNG that struggles to meet its own basic needs is expected to look after a foreign population however desperate 

and needy. 

More than 14,000 asylum seekers have packed into boats operated by people smugglers and entered Australia over the past 12 months. 

The Manus Island detention centre, a Howard era facility, is set to get a massive upgrade in the coming months if this agreement comes to fruition. 

Outside of the usual suspects such as rights groups and opposition politicians, not many people in Australia appear to care what happens to the boat people so long as they are not allowed into the country. 

The reality of the situation is that these people are fleeing dangerous situations in their homelands only to end up in detention centres that offer nothing but an existence in a jail-like facility for an uncertain length of time. 

Some former employees of the Australian government who were directly involved in the operation of the Manus facility have also publicly voiced grave concerns over the suitability of Manus, and in fact anywhere in PNG, as venues for this sort of facilities. 

Papua New Guinea is seen by the world as a poor and under-developed country in terms of its infrastructure, services and an uneven rate of progress. 

In spite of whatever financial benefits the O’Neill Government will garner from the deal, one cannot help but feel that we are being pushed into an Australian issue that should by all rights be addressed by them on their own shores. 

Why do we have to take on asylum seekers, and in big numbers, when Australia can easily take them all?

  • William Kapris’ death in a shootout with police on Monday night was not entirely unexpected. 

Papua New Guinea’s most notorious criminal, a man who has been convicted of, or linked to, a number of violent crimes ranging from armed robbery, murder,  rape and assault was shot and killed by police near Doa in Central, about 45km northwest of Port Moresby.

Kapris’ accomplice Raphael Walimini, a convicted murderer, was also killed in the shootout,

Kapris lived by the sword and he died by the sword.    

For the police, the end of the manhunt that began when Kapris escaped Bomana prison on May 14, will come as big sigh of relief.

They have had to endure heavy flak when the search for the escapees seemed to be going nowhere, as well as damage to their image because of a recent spate of unsavoury incidents involving some among them.

For now, at least, they can take quiet satisfaction in completing their mission.