10 Sep 2012

Australia and PNG sign MOU to reopen asylum seeker centre

10:12 am on 10 September 2012

Australia and Papua New Guinea have signed a deal to reopen the asylum seeker processing centre on Manus Island.

Australia earlier signed a memorandum of understanding with Nauru to reopen a similar centre there at the recent Pacific Islands Forum gathering in the Cook Islands.

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her counterpart in Papua New Guinea Peter O'Neill watched as the deal was signed before the APEC meeting in Vladivostok.

Ms Gillard says the message to asylum seekers is not to risk their life on a boat.

She said the first transfers to the processing centre on Nauru would occur within weeks, but it is likely to be some months before anyone is taken to Manus Island.

Mr O'Neill says PNG did not insist Australia meet any preconditions for the re-establishment of the centre - except to improve conditions on the island.