Close Manus Asylum Center until after Aussie polls : Knight

RONNIE Knight, one of two parliamentarians representing Manus island, said yesterday he wanted the asylum seekers processing centre to be closed until after the Australian elections.
Knight made the comment while responding to Australian media reports that access to the centre was blocked off by angry landowners.
He attributed any such action to local companies not getting the spin-off business they had anticipated from the construction of the centre, and because workers brought from elsewhere in Papua New Guinea were being paid more than Manus Islanders.
He said Manus residents would meet today to consider blocking access to the centre, which was developed at the Lombrum Naval Base. 
There was discussion yesterday about taking this further step, but the residents held back.
Knight said he would prefer that “the whole thing is closed down until after the (Australian federal) election”.
An immigration spokeswoman said: “The entrance to Lombrum is not being obstructed, and ongoing operations at the centre are not being affected.”
Australian opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said if the coalition was elected on Sept 7, it would “immediately” seek clarification of the deal struck between prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Peter O’Neill on July 19.
“There appear to be different expectations on the part of PNG from what the Rudd government announced.”
Bishop said after learning the details of the deal – in which all asylum-seekers to arrive after July 19 would be processed in PNG with no hope of resettlement in Australia – “we shall then review the position”.
An officer at Governor Charlie Benjamin’s office in Manus yesterday said they were not aware of any blockage.

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