THE AUSTRALIAN government is hoping the new O’Neill administration in Papua New Guinea will move quickly to allow the re-opening of the detention centre on Manus Island.
Australia is forging ahead on talks with PNG to reopen the Manus centre at the same time it is fighting a High Court challenge aimed at stopping refugees being sent to Malaysia.
While confident of winning the Malaysia case, a government source said a permanent facility on Manus Island would take some of the political heat out of the Malaysian plan.
The source said that children could be sent to what would be an Australian-monitored facility instead of to Malaysia, which has a poor record in human rights.
The government believes it needs both the Manus and Malaysia options to end people smuggling.
Talks with the interim Abal government foundered despite strong Australian pressure to re-open Manus Island.
But the Australians believe the O’Neill government will be much more sympathetic.