First transfer to Papua New Guinea
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced the first transfer of irregular maritime arrivals – made up entirely of family groups – to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
A group of seven families, including 15 adults and four children of Sri Lankan and Iranian nationalities, departed Christmas Island late yesterday on a charter aircraft and arrived at Manus Island early this morning.
They were accompanied by Australian Federal Police, Immigration staff, interpreters, children's services and medical staff.
'The first transfer to Manus Island has now taken place – and will be the first of many – sending the clear message that people arriving by boat risk being sent to a regional processing centre in either Nauru or Papua New Guinea,' Mr Bowen said.
'To those contemplating the dangerous journey to Australia by boat: people smugglers are lying to you, don't waste your money and don't risk your life – it's just not worth it.
'There is no visa on arrival, there will be no special treatment, no speedy outcome and certainly no advantage given to those who come by boat.'
On arrival in PNG, the group has undergone local immigration clearance processes before being moved into the regional processing centre at Manus Island, which is currently a combination of temporary and refurbished structures.
Operations at the centre will be overseen by both the Australian and PNG governments, with welfare services provided by the Salvation Army, health services by IHMS and operational support services by G4S. Local Manus Island residents have also been employed at the processing centre.
The minister also announced that specialised children's services on Manus Island would be provided by Save the Children, including child protection and education activities.
'The government is committed implementing the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, to break the people smuggling trade and prevent people from taking these dangerous boats to Australia,' Mr Bowen said.
'We will continue to regularly transfer people to Nauru and now to Manus Island.'
The minister has made arrangements for an Interim Joint Advisory Committee to play an initial oversight role for the Nauru centre, as well as provide advice to both governments on the make-up of an independent permanent oversight committee.
Chaired by DIAC Deputy Secretary Dr Wendy Southern and Nauru MP Mathew Batsiua, the interim Joint Advisory Committee includes Nauruan Justice Secretary Lisa Lo Piccolo, Expert Panel member Paris Aristotle, and Minister's Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention (MCASD) members Professor Nicholas Procter, Associate Professor Mary Anne Kenny and Dr Maryanne Loughry.
Meanwhile, Mr Bowen said preliminary interviews for the processing of people at the Nauru centre will begin shortly.
'Interviews to capture comprehensive biographical information will commence in the coming weeks,' he said.
'The government continues to work closely with Nauru regarding commencement of processing in that country. It is expected that assessment of claims will fully commence in early 2013.'
A contract has also been signed for work on the permanent facilities at Nauru.
'Earlier this month, following a tender process, Canstruct was contracted by my department to undertake construction services at the Nauru regional processing centre. Preliminary surveying has already begun with site works to begin shortly,' Mr Bowen said.
Canstruct is in the process of procuring buildings, materials, plant and equipment and organising air and sea freight. A large number of the construction staff is expected to be locally engaged Nauruans.
Last update: Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 14:10 AEST