The National, Wednesday July 24th, 2013
FRIDAY’S joint Australia-PNG announcement of a new regional refugee resettlement arrangement has drawn a swift response from readers of The National.
Australia wants to end people smuggling which has seen tens of thousands of people from many countries arriving on its shores in the past decade. Under the arrangement, all boat people heading for Australia will be sent to Papua New Guinea to be processed for resettlement here or in other Pacific countries. But judging from the letters written to The National, the arrangement has not been well-received. Here are edited excerpts of some of the letters we have received since the news broke.
“The decision by Prime Minister (Peter O’Neill) is premature,” writes SD in an email.
“… the issue of permanently residing asylum seekers in PNG is in fact a threat to a harmonious living environment.”
SD says PNG has not addressed and rectified its inhouse problems and unless PNG’s house is in order, “how can we be able to help carry burdens of a larger scale…”.
“In fact, we are obligating ourselves, with more and more burdens on our shoulders and expecting support from other countries, which is ridiculous.”
Concerned Manus Citizen, who is obviously unhappy with the prospect of Manus Island containing more asylum seekers, makes no bones about his thoughts.
“This is dictatorial . . . why couldn’t he sign an agreement for asylum seekers to be accommodated in the Southern Highlands so he can look after them?”
Andrea Brown of Port Moresby writes: “PNG is yet in the progress of being developed. “In places remote and even in urban areas, we still lack the basic services.
“If we keep making PNG a dumping ground (for asylum seekers) … what about our already rising population? The needs for basic services?
“How could we cold shoulder our wantoks from West Papua for a long time and quickly approve asylum seekers? I am losing pride and confidence for my government. Please explain.”
PD says: “Why should Papua New Guinea be used by Australia to carry its problems? Papua New Guinea must immediately shut down the Manus asylum seekers centre and let Australia solve its own problems.”
A group of readers, who wanted to be known as the Blue Collar Boys said: “Unlike Australia, PNG does not have a financial social security system in place to support these refugees. We do have our traditional social security in the great Wantok System which continues to carry us but we can’t see these strangers assimilating easily into this system without causing social disharmony.
Where and how does Peter O’Neill plan to resettle them? Ialibu-Pangia? Certainly he can’t resettle them elsewhere in PNG because he didn’t bother to ask us and get our consent.
“This is a gimmick thought up by Kevin Rudd and imposed on us through his friend, Peter O’Neill, to salvage his Labor Party’s dwindling hopes of retaining power in the coming Australian federal elections.”
Kapi Muntpana said: “Please do not sell our sovereignty away for the price of Australia’s problems.”
These and other readers’ letters on the issue will be published in The National’s Letters page in the coming days.