6 May 2011

Australian detention centre to reopen on Manus Island

2:02 pm on 6 May 2011

Australian and Papua New Guinean officials have told people on Manus Island that a mothballed detention centre for asylum seekers there will be reopened.

The ABC reports that the Australian federal government has almost reached an agreement with Papua New Guinea, and Immigration department officials recently toured the facility.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has flagged an announcement on regional processing of asylum seekers, but has not commented directly on the reports.

But a Manus resident who wants to remain anonymous told Lateline on ABC1 that a charter plane carrying Australian and PNG officials flew to the island on Thursday afternoon.

Among them was a senior official from the Australian High Commission, officers from the Immigration Department and PNG's chief migration officer.

The ABC reports they inspected the detention centre that used to be part of the Howard government's so-called Pacific Solution.

The resident says they said there will be a regional processing centre for asylum seekers on Manus Island, subject to approval by PNG's national executive council.

They were told there would be an announcement by the foreign ministers of both countries within days.

The Manus Island detention centre is 320km north of PNG, in the Admiralty Islands group.

The centre was dismantled under former prime minister Kevin Rudd. Last year, then-immigration minister Chris Evans ruled out reopening it.

The Opposition has been calling on the Government to concede that its plan to have a regional processing centre in East Timor has failed.