Local, Independant and Effective

Care for Manus Island detainees

Posted October 23, 2017


Cathy asked the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection in Question Time for details of how many asylum seekers will be left behind after the closure of the asylum seeker detention centre on Manus Island on 31 October.

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:18): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Minister, on 14 September you told parliament in question time that about 200 asylum seekers found not to be refugees would be moved into another detention centre in PNG. There are now eight days until the Manus centre closes. Can you provide an update on how many asylum seekers will be left behind after 31 October? What will happen to them? And will the government continue to provide these asylum seekers, in line with UN convention, with appropriate medical and health care, torture and trauma support and security services?

Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:19): I thank the honourable member sincerely for her question. I appreciated her question in September and I appreciate the opportunity to provide her with an update today in relation to the situation. As she is aware, both prime ministers O'Neill and Turnbull announced this year that the regional processing centre in Nauru would close on 31 October. We are able to do that because we haven't had a successful boat arrival in over 1,100 days. We're seeing the population in detention dwindle dramatically and appropriately. It is not as quick as we would want, but we've been given this difficult situation and we're in the process of cleaning it up.

What we've said is that we have the ability to transfer some people to the East Lorengau transit centre. At the moment, in the regional processing centre the population is 606. The non-refugees that the honourable member speaks of number 141. We have the ability in the new facility at Hillside House to accommodate 198 people who have been found not to be refugees. At the moment, as I said, within the regional processing centre there are 141, so those people on our proposal with the PNG government will move into Hillside House. There is the ability for the refugees—that is the balance of the 606—to move from the regional processing centre into East Lorengau and into another facility that we've set up there. So there is that capacity, and we want to do it as quickly as possible.

As the honourable member knows, the Prime Minister was able to negotiate an arrangement with the United States which will see in the order of some 1,200 people moved from Manus and Nauru. Our priority is for women and children to move off Nauru as quickly as possible. And, noting there are no women and children on Manus, nonetheless we've already had the first uptake of 53 people between Manus and Nauru and are working with the United States to make sure the people can move out as quickly as possible.

What we need to do in all of this is make sure we don't get new boat arrivals, because those new arrivals would be relocated to Nauru. They would be held there, and we've been very clear about the fact we don't want people under any circumstance to come to Australia if they've sought to arrive by boat, because we aren't going to allow those people—

The SPEAKER: The member for Indi on a point of order?

Ms McGowan: Yes. My question is about relevance, particularly medical, healthcare, torture and trauma services.

The SPEAKER: The member for Indi will resume her seat. The minister.

Mr DUTTON: I was coming to that point. The services that the member provides—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr DUTTON: Nothing was provided by Labor. You put the people there. I'm not going to be lectured by Labor. The honourable member has a much more distinguished record in this area and has the ability to ask these questions sincerely. The services she speaks of will continue to be provided out of the East Lorengau centre, and there will be transport arrangements from the new centres to transport people on a regular basis to East Lorengau to receive the services. (Time expired)

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