21 Feb 2014

Former Australian PM scathing about Canberra's silence on Manus camp

1:45 pm on 21 February 2014

A former Australian Prime Minister has criticised the current government's secrecy surrounding asylum seekers after recent clashes at Canberra's camp in Papua New Guinea's Manus Island that left one man dead.

Writing in Melbourne's The Age newspaper, Malcolm Fraser says the government cannot guarantee the safety of people in its care on Manus and the responsible course of action is for the centre to be closed.

Mr Fraser says what happened remains a mystery and the government's commitment to secrecy should be a concern for everyone, calling it completely inadequate for democracy but totally appropriate for tyranny.

He says the announcements of an investigation by PNG police and a departmental inquiry by Australia's Immigration department are woefully inadequate and an independent inquiry is needed.

Mr Fraser, who was Prime Minister from 1975 to 1983, says Australia should set a reasonable number of refugee places each year to ensure people don't resort to attempting to arrive by boat.