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MP says decision was ‘inevitable’

Wednesday 27 April 2016 | Published in Regional

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA – The court ruling finding Papua New Guinea’s detention of asylum seekers illegal was an inevitable decision, the MP for Manus Island says.

Ronnie Knight, who represents the region where the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre is located, said that the Supreme Court’s decision did not allow for an appeal.

“Our Supreme Court is the highest court in the land,” he said. “It’s basically the only way they can go, and as far as they can go. I don’t think there’s much that could be done.”

Earlier on Tuesday, PNG’s Supreme Court ruled that the detention of asylum seekers breached the country’s constitution, and ordered the closure of the Australian Government-funded facility.

Manus Island was originally opened in 2001 as a detention centre, but was closed in 2008.

In 2012, Australia’s then-Labor government made an agreement with PNG to once again open the facility to detain asylum seekers.

Offshore detention on Manus Island remains the policy of both Australia’s Coalition and the Labor Party.

PNG’s constitution was changed to allow the Manus Island Detention Centre to re-open, but on Tuesday the court found that move illegal.

“At the moment we have a situation we are trying to retrofit the laws to what we are trying to do, but we have to respect the Supreme Court’s decision and carry on with what they direct us to do,” said Knight.

Many locals on Manus Island work at the facility, and there has been significant infrastructure investments to set up the processing centre.

“A lot of people will be losing jobs, a lot of people will be out of work and back to the village and back to their normal routine at home,” Knight said.

“But I don’t think in our hearts, in our people’s hearts, we thought this was going to be a long-term thing anyway.”

- ABC