A roadmap for Manus Island detainees

The Manus Island detention centre will close after the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruled it was illegal and unconstitutional, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says.

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PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill

The decision which ruled the detention centre breached the constitutional right of asylum seekers to personal liberty, throws the Turnbull government’s offshore detention regime into chaos and thrusts border protection high onto the political agenda, just weeks out from an expected election campaign

Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the court ruling was ‘‘under consideration’’ and the detention centre was the responsibility of the PNG government, adding ‘‘I can’t provide a definitive road map from here’’.

Clearly the fate of the asylum seekers has not been high on the list of the Prime Minister’s priorities.

There’s actually a very simple solution.  Grant these people asylum in Australia.

If Malcolm Turnbull wants to save some political face, he can set up a bipartisan committee, which may include people from outside the parliament, to re-examine Australia’s asylum seeker policy and to consider the future of the detainees in PNG.

Or he could do the statesmanlike thing and just say, ” I will put an end to the suffering of these people. They will be settled in Australia.”

And if Bill Shorten is prepared to support this stance, there will be no backlash to either party.

It wouldn’t benefit the Greens, because it’s already policy for them.

There is no  immediate and logical connection between the detention of people on Manus and Nauru and the decline in people smuggling activities. It is far more likely that the activities of the Australian Navy and the tow-back policy have been far more decisive in this.

But it’s unlikely that will see leadership on this issue from either Shorten or Turnbull.

The most likely solution that they will simply ship all the Manus Island detainees off to Nauru.

It’s unlikely that we will be visiting Port Macquarrie in the immediate future. Not really a big tourist destination.

And  now Labor MPs Melissa Parke, Lisa Singh, Jill Hall and Sue Lines told Fairfax Media the court ruling was a chance for the opposition to re-think its policy on offshore processing and bring the asylum seekers to Australia – contradicting party policy.

“It’s inevitable that the government will need to have another plan for what is going to happen and the most logical thing to do is to bring those people to Australia,” said Ms Parke, who is a former UN lawyer and advocate for asylum seekers.

 

 

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