3 Sep 2013

Landowners threatening to put spanner in work of Aust asylum centre

4:22 pm on 3 September 2013

Landowners in Papua New Guinea are threatening to derail part of Australia's controversial asylum programme, just days before the general election is held in Australia.

Manus Island residents are threatening to shut off water to the detention centre on the island, unless the Australian government pays them hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation.

Local MP and Papua New Guinea Vice-Minister for Trade, Ron Knight, says the landowners want more than $AUD100,000 for the use of a dump site of a naval base which is being used to hold about 500 asylum seekers.

They also want a similar amount per month for the continued use of the dump and $28,000 per month to cover anchorage and waste management of Australian navy ships.

Over the weekend the landowners blocked the dump and a gravel pit being used by the Australian government and say they will shut down the water supply if their demands are not met.

In July the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his PNG counterpart Peter O'Neill signed the Regional Settlement Arrangement, allowing Australia to process asylum-seekers and resettle refugees on Manus Island.

Malcolm Fraser, a former Liberal prime minister, described Manus Island and a similar camp on Nauru as "Australia's gulags" and called for a Royal Commission into the Immigration Department.