Rooney backs Rudd to check out Manus

National, Normal

The National – Wednesday, June 15, 2011

MANUS woman leader Nahau Rooney has called on the government to set its priorities right on the asylum seekers detention centre at the PNG Defence Force naval base in Lombrum, Manus.
Rooney said with the issue of the asylum seekers again being raised by the Australian government, “the PNG government should not tolerate the discussions as it was a very sensitive issue that involves landowners and the Manus provincial government”.
“I support the calls by former prime minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu in The Australian newspaper that Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd should visit Port Moresby to rescue the Gillard government’s floundering asylum-seeker deal,” she said.
“After last week’s sacking of Don Polye as foreign minister by Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal, I would think that this has put the relationship with Australia in a situation where nothing will happen on the asylum seeker issue.
“Our priority now is on domestic politics and they better come up now and sort out this matter.”
Rooney said the priority for PNG was to improve the facilities at the PNGDF naval base.
“How can we talk about the detention centre and not consider upgrading the naval base that houses the detention centre?
“The Los Negros LLG where Lombrum is located houses three international and national bodies which are the PNGDF Naval Base, Papitalai Secondary School and the Momote Airport.
“We cannot bring in another organisation and allow them to live near our run down PNGDF Naval base facilities. The landowners must be respected,” Rooney said.
Radio Australia reported yesterday that Rudd has rejected the request from Sir Rabbie to fly to Port Moresby to rescue the Gillard government’s floundering asylum seeker deal.
A spokesman said: “Rudd has no plans to travel to PNG at the near future. The PNG leadership is currently focused on other issues.”