Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says asylum seekers on Manus Island will not be re-settled in New Zealand.
His comments, made at a press conference this morning, come after Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced this week 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 Dutton said the Federal Government had discussed the issue with the New Zealand Government.
“What we know of Julia Gillard’s deal with New Zealand was it was a backdoor way to get into Australia,” he said.
“It would have been a green light for people smugglers because what Labor had proposed was to allow people to go to New Zealand, gain New Zealand citizenship and then as a right under the visa arrangements, go to New Zealand and settle in Australia.
“It was going to do nothing other than encourage people smugglers to get back into business and we have been very mindful of all the complexities involved in securing our borders but we have stopped boats, closed 13 of 17 detention centres that Labor opened on main land. There have been no reported deaths at sea under Operation Sovereign Borders, and we want to continue that success.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said a Labor Government would continue with an offshore processing regime.
“It is outrageous that Mr Turnbull and Mr Dutton have allowed this trainwreck to occur, in terms of offshore processing in Papau New Guinea,” he said.
“It was amazing yesterday morning when Minister Dutton said that he and Prime Minister Turnbull had known that this problem had been coming for months. Well what have they been doing about it?
“A Labor government is supportive of regional processing, we will not allow the people smugglers to get back into business. Mr Turnbull and I are on a unity ticket but what we won’t do, is allow a situation if we’re elected on July the second, of indefinite detention for people on Manus and Nauru.”
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.