PNG Opposition relaunches asylum attack

The PNG Opposition has re-filed court papers in the Supreme Court challenging the legality of detaining asylum seekers on Manus Island.

The opposition's lawyer Loani Henao says the matter has now been re-filed in accordance with the court's ruling. 

However, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has indicated he will amend the constitution to exempt asylum seekers from the guarantee of personal liberty. 

The Opposition's move comes on the same day that the first group of asylum seekers was transferred to Manus Island yesterday under the Australian government's PNG deal.

The Opposition has resurrected a constitutional challenge to Australia's detention centre on Manus Island as the first group of asylum seekers arrive to experience the Rudd Government's tough resettlement policy. 

Lawyers acting on behalf of Opposition Leader Belden Namah filed a court challenge to the centre yesterday, referring to section 42 of the Constitution. 

Lawyer, Loani Henao told journalists that all persons coming into the country are guaranteed their personal liberty except in the case where they come to the country without a visa or proper work permit. 

The opposition's first case against the centre was thrown out of court when a tribunal of judges found the opposition did not use the correct legal mechanism to bring the case. 

Mr. Henao says what they are doing is effectively resurrecting what they had filed previously. 

There were few signs of increased activity on Manus Island upon the arrival of an early afternoon flight from Port Moresby carrying immigration officials, interpreters and journalists. 

Australia is installing large tents capable of sleeping up to 30 people, as well as industrial-sized kitchens. 

The  first transfer comes as Prime Minister Peter O'Neill outlined the costs of major projects Australia has agreed to fund as part of the deal. 

Australia has agreed to fund several major infrastructure projects in the country, including upgrades to a hospital, a highway, a university and the country's courts. 

Mr O'Neill said the costs of the projects would exceed 750-Million Australian Dollars, with Australia paying almost 500-Million Australian dollars. 

Meantime, Environment Minister John Pundari has given the thumbs up for Prime Minister O’Neill for standing up and rising to the challenge on the asylum seekers issue. 

Minister Pundari said in a short span of time, under the leadership of Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister, PNG has profoundly been elevated in the international stage both within the region and amongst the global community. 

Meanwhile, the new policy denies asylum seeker boat arrivals entry to Australia and sends them on to PNG for processing and potential resettlement. 

Australian Immigration Minister Tony Burke pointed to the transfer of the men to Manus Island, saying it showed the model was working and would smash the people smuggling business model. 

On Sunday, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott suggested Mr Rudd was not "fair dinkum" when it came to his new asylum seeker policy, but it appears Mr. Rudd has proved him wrong, sending the first group of asylum seekers to Manus yesterday. 

The debate will surely continue as more asylum seekers are transferred to Manus in the coming days.

Radio Australia
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