31 Jul 2013

Delay in Australia's first transfer to Manus under new refugee policy

11:07 am on 31 July 2013

Bad weather has delayed the transfer of the first group of Australia's asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea under Labour's new border protection policy.

The group was scheduled to leave Australia on Tuesday evening, arriving at Manus Island some time this morning.

But a spokesman for the Department of Immigration on Wednesday confirmed the transfer had been delayed due to poor weather.

The asylum seekers will be the first arrivals since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his PNG counterpart, Peter O'Neill, agreed to expand asylum seeker processing two weeks ago.

The initial group is likely to consist of only men, with women and children to be moved at a later date.

The fourth and final airlift of equipment destined for Manus arrived in PNG earlier this week, with work continuing to expand the facility.

The Australian immigration minister Tony Burke has said permanent accommodation would replace temporary tents and marquees, and the centre could be expanded rapidly as required.

Any asylum seeker arriving by boat without a visa under the government's new policy will be sent to PNG, and will not be resettled in Australia.