Peter Dutton has released an unsurprising (but still disappointing) statement in response to this afternoon’s announcement by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea that both Australia and PNG have agreed to shut down the Manus Island detention centre.
Although it’s certainly great that we’ve closed one of those hell-holes, Dutton has reiterated the Government‘s position that none of the refugees on Manus Island will be coming in Australia:
“It has been the longstanding position of this Government to work with PNG to close Manus and support those people as they transition into PNG or return to their country of origin.
“Our position, confirmed again today with PNG, is that no one from Manus Island Regional Processing Centre will ever be settled in Australia.”
He also somehow managed to blame Labor for being soft on refugees when they opened Manus Island in the first place:
“The Rudd Government entered an agreement with Papua New Guinea establishing the Manus facility at a time when Labor lost control of our borders and tens of thousands of people were coming on boats.”
You can have a gander at the whole statement, if that’s your bag:
Immigration Minister @PeterDutton_MP STATEMENT on the closure of Manus Island pic.twitter.com/4MUhgJeb8Y
— Karen Barlow (@KJBar) August 17, 2016
The closure comes after the Supreme Court found that indefinite detention of refugees was illegal under the PNG constitution.
On ABC radio this afternoon, Dutton said he was unable to discuss a timeframe in which the closure would take place or nominate a ballpark figure for the cost of resettling the refugees and returning them to their home countries, he also ruled out refugees being moved from Manus Island to Nauru or Christmas Island.
Dutton said Australia was in talks with other countries, such as Cambodia, for the potential resettling of refugees who wouldn’t be remaining in PNG or refused to return to the countries they are fleeing.
The Aus Gov Googles Twitter account has captured what I’m sure is pretty much exactly the vibe in the Immigration Department right now:
islands like manus island that are not manus island
— Aus Gov Just Googled (@GovGoogles) August 17, 2016
Photo: Getty Images / Stefan Postles.