Ed Husic slams Turnbull government over Manus Island refugee protest

Refugees and asylum seekers protesting inside the now-closed regional processing facility on Manus Island, which they refuse to leave. Picture: Supplied
Refugees and asylum seekers protesting inside the now-closed regional processing facility on Manus Island, which they refuse to leave. Picture: Supplied

Chifley MP Ed Husic has slammed the Turnbull government’s “woefully incompetent” management of offshore processing.

The tense stand-off between Papua New Guinean authorities and asylum seekers has now stretched beyond a week since Australia shut down the Manus Island detention centre.

More than 600 men refuse to leave the centre, despite Australian authorities cutting off water and electricity. They are asking to be resettled in a third country rather than transferred to another facility.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton maintains there is safe housing for the men at other locations – a claim disputed by the United Nations.

The unresolved situation has made international headlines and, according to Blacktown refugee advocate Om Dhungel, is harming Australia’s international reputation.

Chifley MP Ed Husic has voted in favour of offshore processing, but he claimed the facilities have become “places of indefinite detention” due to a failure to negotiate third-country resettlement.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this week rejected an offer from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to take 150 of the asylum seekers.

“The Turnbull government, including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, have been woefully incompetent in their management of offshore processing arrangements,” Mr Husic said.

“It is incumbent on Turnbull government to do what they can to de-escalate tensions on Manus Island and work with PNG authorities to ensure the safety of refugees, staff and locals while those men who remain in the regional processing centre move to alternative accommodation.”

Chifley MP Ed Husic has slammed the government for its failure to secure third-country resettlement options. Picture: Dean Sewell/Oculi Photos

Chifley MP Ed Husic has slammed the government for its failure to secure third-country resettlement options. Picture: Dean Sewell/Oculi Photos

Mr Husic said the government’s failure to answer “basic questions” about arrangements in PNG was fuelling the refugees’ uncertainty.

He also said transferring the asylum seekers from one centre to another was not a long-term solution.

“These people urgently need viable third country resettlement options,” Mr Husic said.

“Peter Dutton should stop shirking his ministerial responsibility and immediately secure other third country resettlement options for refugees on Manus Island and Nauru.”