MICHAEL KOZIOL & FERGUS HUNTER | Fairfax Media
SYDNEY - Lawyers are hopeful Papua New Guinea may dramatically intervene in the desperate situation on Manus Island by reopening the abandoned detention centre or striking a resettlement deal with New Zealand.
About 600 refugees and asylum seekers have spent two nights in darkness at the decommissioned Australian-run refugee processing centre, sustaining themselves on stockpiled food and water, since official personnel left on Tuesday.
An injunction application was before PNG's Supreme Court chief justice on Wednesday evening that would effectively force PNG to reopen the facility and provide food, water and electricity.
Ben Lomai, acting for Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani, said he had reason to believe PNG's government might "agree to the order", but there had not yet been official talks.
He also said the election of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was "a window of opportunity for the PNG government to deal directly with New Zealand".
Ms Ardern has already reiterated her country's longstanding offer to resettle 150 refugees and is expected to at least recommit to that in scheduled comments on Thursday - as well as when she meets Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this weekend.
Australian barrister Greg Barns, who is working with Mr Lomai, pointed to acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop's remarks on Wednesday that "PNG is a sovereign government".
"If PNG is a sovereign country, cut a deal with New Zealand," he urged.