Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says there is no way asylum seekers from Manus Island will be settled in Australia.
His comments come after Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday announced the detention centre on Manus Island would close because of a Supreme Court ruling that keeping asylum seekers and refugees at the centre was unconstitutional.
Mr Turnbull said allowing asylum seekers into the country was “unacceptable”.
“We are seeking to ensure the people detained at Manus can either settle in PNG, as they have the opportunity to do, or in third countries, but they will not come to Australia, I want to be very clear about that,” Mr Turnbull said
“There will be no transfer of those individuals to Australia because to do that would send a signal to the people smugglers to get back into business and that is utterly unacceptable.”
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Mr Turnbull “should be better than this”.
“[The Prime Minister should] condemn his immigration minister, work with people to get the individuals from Manus island to Australia safely and allow them, if they’re refugees, to be settled into the community safely and end this sorry saga,” she said at a press conference.
Immigration minister Peter Dutton said Nauru had room for 850 men from Manus Island.
“There is capacity [on Nauru] but we’re talking with the PNG Government about what options are available in PNG and we’ll continue those discussions with them,” Mr Dutton told Sky News this morning.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor didn’t want to see people smugglers back in business.
“Our commitment to defeating the people smugglers shouldn’t give the green light for a lazy Liberal Government to maintain a situation of indefinite detention,” Mr Shorten said
“Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Dutton need to make this a first order priority.”
The Manus Island detention centre opened to maritime asylum seekers in 2001, as part of the Howard Government’s Pacific Solution.
The centre was closed by the Labor Government in 2008 and re-opened in 2012.
There are 850 asylum seekers at Manus Island.