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Australian university researches Ross River Fever

Australia out: Asylum boat people will be sent to PNG

JONATHAN SWAN | Sydney Morning Herald

ANY ASYLUM SEEKER who arrives by boat without a visa will have no chance of being resettled in Australia as a refugee, Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has announced.

Mr Rudd declared his much-anticipated asylum seeker policy, with the major change being a new resettlement arrangement between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

At a Brisbane press conference, flanked by PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill and Australian immigration minister Tony Burke, Mr Rudd declared he would "combat the scourge of people smuggling".

''Today we're announcing a new resettlement arrangement between Australia and Papua New Guinea. I understand this is a very hard-line decision,'' Mr Rudd said.

In the strongest line a modern Labor prime minister has taken against people smugglers, Mr Rudd said: ''As of today asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia.''

Under the new arrangement signed with PNG – the Regional Settlement Arrangement - unauthorised arrivals will be sent to PNG for assessment and if found to be a refugee will be settled there.

''Australians have had enough of seeing people drowning in the waters to our north,'' Mr Rudd said. ''Our country has had enough of people smugglers exploiting asylum seekers and seeing them drown on the high seas.''

With the changes, regional processing arrangements in PNG will be significantly expanded and people will be sent to Manus Island as soon as health checks are complete and appropriate accommodation is identified.

PNG officials will assess their claims on Manus Island. Mr Rudd said there would be no cap on the number of people who can be transferred to PNG. In exchange for PNG receiving asylum seekers, the Australian government woul help with the redevelopment of the major referral hospital in Lae and its long-term management needs.

''We've agreed to fund 50/50 the reform of Papua New Guinea university sector,'' Mr Rudd said.

He did not say how much his changes to asylum seeker policy would cost. But he said it would be ''budget neutral'' and that Finance Minister Penny Wong would announce the costs in ''due course''.

''What we're seeking to do . . . is to send a message to people smugglers around the world that the business model is basically undermined,'' Mr Rudd said. ''This is a clear change in strategic direction.''


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Steve Gallagher

Why don't they have a place for asylum seekers in Australia rather than taking them to PNG.

Is it that PNG is a backyard of Australia? Is PNG your dumping ground Australia? Enough is enough!

Why is Peter O'Neill doing that? Is PNG your private asset?

Mrs Barbara Short

Yes, Emma, it is amazing what some people will do for money. O'Neill must have been offered a lot of money by Rudd.

Paul Sheehan, a Sydney Morning Herald writer, sums it up well - "Rudd's Devil Island ploy is beyond cynical. It is grotesque.

"The policy has not a shred of functional credibity, policy consistency or moral coherence."

David Kitchnoge

If this is how O'Neill plans to run the country, then our MPs need to think very carefully about their support for his Bill to extend the grace period for a vote of no confidence in a prime minister.

Guaranteeing him a safe stay in the position might only serve to increase his arrogance and cause him to make a lot of unilateral decisions on important matters that concern the country without having to consult Parliament.

I am horrified that he did not have the courtesy to inform Parliament and the people of PNG and allow for proper debate before committing us to this deal which will have far reaching socio-economic implications for our people.

Emma Wakpi

Shame, Mr Prime Minister, shame! That you would so coldly sacrafice the digity of your people, and the sovereignty of your nation speaks volumes about who you are as a leader.

You have caused my beloved country to be viewed with distaste and horror and considered undesirable by the world. What head of state would do that to their country?

Tony Flynn

The way of life that I registered for when I became a citizen is under siege. Internal threats I can live with. External threats I have to resist with what little ability I have.

Michael, I always liked the word picture that springs to my mind when I hear "Blari useless". It used to be like a Grassroots cartoon - now it will forever be associated with Kevin Rudd and Peter O'Neil.

It is good that they both apparently believe that PNG has a small population and plenty of spare land. This probably explains why the S.A.B.L. land deals are so acceptable to our leaders.

Unfortunately many or most of our Parliamentary leaders will fall into line. What should happen is that the government should fall. Was it a coincidence that the changes to the Constitution were accomplished at this time?

It is also only a short while ago that the dreadful state of the Manam refugees resurfaced. These refugees from other countries are to be treated better than our own home grown refugees.

Have you seen where the Australians put their refugees? Very uninviting places. Manus, as I remember from visiting Lombrum in the early ‘60’s, was a place of waving palms, white beaches and attractive people; just the place for refugees to be allowed to wander freely and become friends with lonely ladies who may wish to assist them to remain in PNG.

There is not a lot of good land in PNG after S.A.B.L. and it will be needed to support our farmers in the future when they develop their farming skills.
If we cannot get out of this deal, all the politicians showing support should follow Peter O’Neil’s lead and provide land in their home areas; there will be more refugee camps needed and they should be happy when the consequent infringement on the rights of their voters leads to them being kicked out.

As they will all turn out to NIMBY’s (not in my back yard) the refugee camps will be in the areas of PNG where the leaders and people are not very strong. If Manusians do not do something now they will have proved my point, the authorities’ intention appears to allow them into the community.

Peter Kranz

I think most commentators here believe this a cynical exploitation of the PNG/Australia relationship.

It gets an Australian problem offshore in time for an election, and it no doubt provides PNG with a lot more money.

Can any Aussie or PNG leaders reading this please provide a justification?

This has damaged PNG's reputation - just see how the Aussie press are going to town on PNG being a hellhole. And it provides a neat excuse for Rudd to undermine Abbott.

So they are using their respective countries and the poor bloody asylum seekers as snooker balls in the 'great game'.


David Kitchnoge

Colin Huggins, I don't get you.

Why would these people be an asset to PNG if they would be a liability for Australia.

We are not your dumping ground thankyou.

Michael Dom

What a mess. Rudd and O'Neil - sneakers!

Eh, graun blong yupla na yupla givim tok orait long ol narapela lain long kam sindaun, ah?

Yeh, yutupela save olsem ol papa-mama-graun long PNG kisim hard laif stap na bai hamamas tasol long kaikai moni blong yupla, olsem na isi tru long mekim dispela kain stil toktok pasin.

Blari useless.

Moni, moni, moni, moni!

Olgeta taim bai yumi toktok long kisim moa moni.

Kaikai moni na indai isi isi stap. Oh Penge!

Hamaspela billion kina lus pinis na laikim sampela moa moni yet?

Colin Huggins

David, don't think for a second that Tony (The Mad Monk) will change this arrangement. He must be on his knees thanking Kevin for doing the job for him.

This 'boat business' must be stopped, they are costing far too much and unlike the refugees after WW2 from war torn Europe who assimilated, these refugees who seem to have heaps of "loot" to take the leaky and unsafe boat trip, I believe have a strange agenda.

The "refugees" after WW2 were prepared to locate to country areas to earn a living, the present boat people want city "Ghetto" life, all staying together As they are all Muslims from various countries in the Middle East and northern Africa, why don't they take refugee status in the oil rich Arabian countries?

Maybe Saudi Arabia etc. have put up a very big "not welcome" sign?
Why don't the Muslim countries on the route accept them as "genuine" refugees, namely Malaysia and Indonesia?

Why doesn't the PRC welcome them? Thailand and the Philippines who have militant Muslim problems in the southern areas of their respective countries won't take them, Japan and South Korea have a "not welcome" sign up.

It is a real problem, but I do wonder if the leafy suburbs of the Australian capital cities would welcome refugees centres set up in their areas.

Maybe if they are good, genuine people (?) escaping persecution, but recent and maybe not so recent aspects suggest that they are economic "refugees", they may be an asset to PNG. Anyhow, they should if they really want Australian citizenship apply by the correct procedures.

It is a dilemma of what to do with them, the European countries have the problem, as do Canada and the USA.

Frank K Daosak

I agree with the sentiments here. This is a total shock to me and I am sure a lot of educated PNG people.

Our local media have had nothing to report on this while its all over the news down under.

Oneil and Rudd have betrayed the people of PNG doing cunning deals behind closed doors.

No no no, resettling Islamic desperate people into PNG society will create more problems than answers. The locals wont allow it....

How can the PNG prime minister not discuss or debate this in parliament before putting pen to paper?

David Kitchnoge

This aint gonna work. This absurdity raises more questions than answers.

I'm sorry Peter Oneill but you totally lost it on this one.

Kevin Rudd gim gol lo yu pinis!

But I'm sure Ozzies are not stupid and won't elect Rudd back on this gimmick.

Peter Kranz

Sorry, Mr K. You claimed asylum in PNG but we are going to send you to Cabramatta instead."

"Oh no! you can't torture me like that!"

"It's either that or Bankstown."

"My God - and you claim to be a civilised country? Send me back to Manus, please!"

Nana Tope

The signing of the agreement for Asylum seekers to be resettled in PNG between PNG and Australia Prime Ministers is flawed, criminal in nature and did not follow or honour the principles of mutually agreed cooperation between the two countries.

I want all the Australian public and PNG to know that
Australian officials smuggled an Australian crafted document which is now an agreement between the two countries in which our PM signed the documents in the absence of our top advisors behind closed doors.

If it is in the best interest of Australia and PNG and a transparent deal benefitting both countries, then this document would have been signed during the meeting in Parliament in the presence of all PNG Government Ministers and Governors including our top bureaucrats present during the bilateral meeting which is normal practise in any bilateral meetings internationally between two states.

To date no one knows what is in this document that was signed. The documents was smuggled in because PNG’s top advisors refused to entertain Australia’s proposal as the document itself was encroaching into sovereignty issues and has constitutional implications on it.

The agreement has a lot of implications including social and financial costs that PNG will be prepared to bear. Australia spent $2.5 billion on asylum seekers in 2013 which is one quarter of PNGs annual national budget.

Now PNG will spend that money, because Australia is cutting costs by sending refugees away.

The video also containing the footage broadcast on Friday night was not taken by any of the media that covered the Rudds visit to PNG, but by those who were present in the closed door meeting which is by Australian officials which was not released after one week of the visit to PNG when Kevin Rudd returned to Australia for him to make this announcement.

We should question why the chief of staff is in the thick of all these discussions and not the Department of Foreign Affairs and Immigration top officials who were locked out of the deal that chief of staff spearheaded which he sold the country to the Australians.

In his statement in Parliament, Kevin Rudd mentioned that Labor Party will continue to change its policy on the handling of the asylum seekers, which reflected the closed door discussions that only both Prime Ministers were preview to.

We must know that PNG has given its sovereignty away to Australia and we are being recolonised.

Papua New Guinea has no contribution to this so called agreement which is portrayed as a joint agreement by PNG and Australia.

Before any joint agreement is signed, both countries officials will jointly draft the document which is normal practise and must be agreed to before leaders signed, this did not happen in this case.

Papua New Guinea must know that the agreement was pushed and shoved by Australian officials aided by our chief of staff for PNG PM to sign and agreed to.

Papua New Guinean citizens must rise up against this act of bullying and greedy tact used by Australia to facilitate for Kevin Rudd and his Labour Party to remain in power.

PNG’s Opposition Government has every valid reason to challenge this case in court for the sake of all right thinking Papua New Guineans.

The document that was signed also have a clause forcing PNG to withdraw our reservations to 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.

Why is it that our media and newspapers did not have any news to tell the world about PNG side of the story, when it was breaking news all over Australia on Friday evening, there was simply no coverage to report on as the whole issue was covered by Australia government media in the closed door, tucked away and publicised widely in Australia making PNG look stunned, surprised, lost for words and stupid after all the commotion died down on Rudd's visit.

Kevin Rudd made it look like a new and changing policy for Labor Party but it was all recorded and kept away in secret until he feel was right time to publish it as fresh policy.

We are looking at about 15,000 refugees coming in the next few months.

PNG nationals, the refugees will live amongst us, you will now compete fore very basic services with the new influx of people, our mothers will continue to die, in the rural areas whilst giving birth, our people will carry bags of coffee and walk the most strenuous journey to the nearest town to sell, we will always live like this whilst our government will spend millions of kina at the interest of Australia to feed, shelter and give better lives to non-citizens of this country.

Most of these people are economic migrants; many will be enjoying the proceeds of the LNG gas projects, at the expense of our people if resettled here.

The Manus centre is a joke, as to date, Australia has not even paid one Dollar on the island since it was re-opened again. It is all at the expense of PNG Government. We will continue to pay for the cost at the expense of our population who are struggling to make ends meet.

Mrs Barbara Short

Well said, Paul. I agree!

Be interesting to see how it all pans out! It is all "politics and power and money" taking.

Paul Yabob

Barbara, All right thinking Australians and all right thinking Papua New Guineans have every reason to be alarmed by this new shock announcement.

I was with several PNG MPs and senior Ministers after Parliament this week who were not aware of this impending announcement until too late.

They feel Peter ONeill betrayed them in not raising it for full debate at both Cabinet level or in Parliament.

Apart from that, this Agreement is in breach of both country's obligations under the UN Refugee Convention.

Australia has an on going principal obligation to process refugees on Australian soil. PNG Cannot accept Refugee if they have not been granted their rights by Australia, and if their right are likely to be breached-which is presently the case on Manus, as already documented by no less than 2 UN Reports.

The Manus Centre does not comply with PNG's obligations under the UN Convention on Refugees. Any Agreement to send more people to the same Centre is illegal.

This bi-lateral agreement between Peter ONeill and Kevin Rudd to help Rudd with his re-election unfortunately is an act of heartless selfishness by two politicians. It has nothing to do with humanity or proper rules by which civilized nationas and civilized peoples of the world live and relate to each other and resolve difficult issues.

In the case of PNG, the population will not accept Peter ONeill imposing foreigners to come in to take more of our businesses and our lands.

Peter ONeill may have made enough money and Rudd may know ONeill has his little piece of Australia well secured for him to run away to, but what about us poor unsuspecting PNGians.

We will be left with a growing population of Muslim people of a desperate background, who really don't want to be here, to deal with and to fight over our few opportunities. Is this what Rudd and ONeill want?

Peter O'Neill and Kevin Rudd have no respect for us the simple people in PNG.

I encourage Australians to vote Rudd out. He is a desperate man pushing his act of desperation a little too far on us simple people through an easily pliable and buy-able Peter ONeill. Both of them need to be voted out.

Melanesia For Melanesians!

Luke Johnson

Potentially thousands of dis-affected Muslim asylum seekers deposited in a state with no welfare system to support them is a recipe for future Islamic radicalism and cultural tension that PNG society does not need.

Peter Kranz

As predicted the Australian press are taking every opportunity to demonise PNG over this, with the Daily Telegraph headlining it "The Hellhole Solution."

I reckon this has put back PNG's reputation by 10 years or more in the minds of Australians. Surely the diplomats saw this coming?

Mrs Barbara Short

It is a shame that O'Neill and PNG have been dragged into Australia's problem with our "boat" people.

Many Australian people are very kind and caring and feel sorry for these boat people, who, for various reasons,including civil war,or ethnic and religious conflict, are not happy in their own country, and want to live in Australia and are willing to risk their lives by coming on ricketty old Indonesian fishing boats long past their use-by date.

I would say that O'Neill and Rudd feel that once the refugees know that, if they try to come to Australia by boat from southern Indonesian ports, they will automatically go to PNG and not have any chance of becoming Australians, then the refugees will no longer use this method of coming to Australia.

This means the people smugglers, who are the ones we are trying to stop, who work out of Indonesia, will lose a way of making a lot of money.

The people of PNG need to know all the facts. They need to know that in the past year over 800 people have drowned in this process.

The smugglers are dealing in human traffic. They don't care about the refugees, whether they make it to Australia or whether they drown on the trip. Once they have their money they couldn't care less about the refugees of the Indonesian crew members. Their aim is to make a profit. The boats they are using are the old Indonesian fishing boats which they know might sink.

I'm sure there are better ways to fix this problem and that by working with the Indonesian government the smugglers could be stopped.

I hear the Indonesian police have been bribed to turn a blind eye to the smugglers so that is why they have not been stopped before now.

Peter Kranz

ABC Pacific correspondent Sean Dorney has lived and worked in Papua New Guinea for almost 20 years and says the newly announced policy is going to change the fabric of the society.

I believe most people in Papua New Guinea will be as shocked as anyone here in Australia by this deal between Peter O'Neill and Kevin Rudd.

There have been suggestions that the Manus processing facility is to be expanded to take 3,000 people.

In the first six months of this year there were something like 15,000 asylum seekers trying to get to Australia.

Prime Minister Rudd has said there will be "no limit" to the number who will now be diverted to Papua New Guinea and also that he expects the "people smugglers" to test his resolve on this deal.

If so, then a processing centre for 3,000 in Manus might be overwhelmed.

Manus is the smallest province in PNG.

My wife is from Manus and she and my daughter went back to her home for a holiday last year.

She says the province is not set up to handle a huge influx of people.

The announcement that those found to be genuine refugees will be settled in Papua New Guinea raises the question of where?

Ninety-seven per cent of the land in PNG is traditionally owned and land issues are a complex problem.

Prime minister O'Neill said Papua New Guinea had plenty of land and a small population.

Well, the population is over 7 million and there are forecasts that the way the population is growing, PNG could have the same population as Australia by 2050.

Another issue could be the resentment that resettling the genuine refugees in Papua New Guinea might cause.

There is the issue of culture shock - likely from both sides. Many of these people found to be genuine refugees will have little in common with Papua New Guineans.

Mr Rudd said Australia and PNG would provide "comprehensive settlement services" to ensure that those found to be genuine refugees would be able to live safely, with security and "in time prosperity".

There are going to be a lot of communities in PNG asking, "Well, what about us?"

PNG does not have a welfare system and the main cities have thousands of people living in squatter settlements.

There is also the issue of culture shock - likely from both sides. Many of these people found to be genuine refugees will have little in common with Papua New Guineans.

PNG is overwhelmingly Christian.

One of the attractions for PNG of this deal is the promise that Australia will increase its aid for health and education.

But there are going to be many Papua New Guineans asking why is PNG being dragged even deeper into an Australian election campaign.

Peter Kranz

Well i'm a cynic. But it seems to me Australia has conveniently offshored it's boat people to PNG just prior to an election.

And what does PNG get out of the deal? A few million extra aid dollars and some cops.

And what about the poor bloody asylum-seekers?

Momia Teariki-Tautea

Reckon this will distract a number but need to assure rights of refugees protected. They should be processed within 3 months and then given refugee protection visas for 1 year and a final decision after the one year. Children should never be put behind fences but allowed to live in the community with parents or careers . PNG should allocate land for those released and allow them to make a living and live normal lives! Dr Momia Teariki-Tautea

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