The Manus Island detention centre is set to close following a ruling by Papua New Guinea’s supreme court.
Peter Dutton, the Australian minister for Immigration, yesterday confirmed that the off-shore detention facility would be shut down because there were simply no more boats to stop.
“One of the dividends of stopping boats is that we can close detention centres.” He told 2GB radio. “We have determined that we can do without the capacity that was once needed on Manus Island.”
There was little said about the PNG ruling, which declared the facility was being used to illegally detain refugees and asylum seekers. More specifically, it “breached the right to personal liberty (as laid down in) the PNG constitution.”
Mr Dutton instead took this opportunity to place the blame on the Labour party. Speaking to the ABC, he said:
“This Labor legacy of the failed border protection policy, not only did it result in 1,200 people drowning at sea, but it resulted in billions of dollars being spent on this program. It will take years to clean up this mess.”
While there is not yet an official timeline for the detention facility’s closure, the PNG government will apparently receive a sizeable financial package to assist in winding the operation down. The Immigration minister did confirm that none of the 847 inmates would be resettled in Australia.
With the closure of Manus Island comes fears regarding the local economic situation. The facility created 2000 jobs and kick-started infrastructural development on the island; sealed roads and a new marketplace were constructed with the financial windfall, and there were plans for a hospital and police station. Many of these projects may not come to fruition.
The facility costs $1.5 million to operate each day, and its standards may also have had an adverse effect on detainees. The PNG government believes that a handful of asylum seekers have been radicalised after their time on Manus Island.
Mr Dutton confirmed that the Nauru facility would remain open for the time being.
“We need a regional processing centre because we know it is one of the main tools that helps to stop people smugglers selling tickets.”