Bringing Manus detainees to Australia the only option

Asylum-seekers dig for water after supplies were cut at Manus (Twitter/Kon_K)

There is now a humanitarian disaster on Australia's doorstep. And it's our responsibility, write Robert Manne, John Menadue, Tim Costello and Fr Frank Brennan in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The refugees on Manus Island must be resettled promptly. After four years, all options other than Australia have come to nothing or have been rejected by our government. There is now no option but to resettle them in Australia.

There are 600 persons, most of them proven refugees, who are at risk on Manus Island. They were taken there under an agreement between the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea. They have been there more than four years.

The original agreement provides: "Australia and Papua New Guinea take seriously their obligations for the welfare and safety of any persons transferred to Papua New Guinea under this arrangement."

"Australia will provide support, through a service provider, to any refugees who are resettled in Papua New Guinea or in any other participating regional, including Pacific Island, state"; and "Australia will bear the full cost of implementing the arrangement in Papua New Guinea for the life of the arrangement. If this requires additional development of infrastructure or services, it is envisaged that there will be a broader benefit for communities in which transferees are initially placed."

The agreement has failed. It's never worked. It's now completely unworkable. It is now unprincipled. It has not provided protection, security or safety for these 600 persons. It has not conferred broader benefits on the affected communities. It has placed the lives of refugees at risk, and it has disturbed affected communities.

It is not an acceptable option to leave the refugees on Manus Island any longer, when there has not been an ordered transition to other secure accommodation or to new competent service providers. The Liberal/National Party government should accept that it has failed to make this agreement work, and the time is up.

After four years, our government has exhausted all offshore possibilities. The refugees and failed asylum-seekers should be brought to Australia immediately. Those who are not refugees can be held here in secure detention until they are returned home. Those refugees accepted for entry to the US can migrate when their vetting processes are complete. The other refugees can get on with their lives here in safety.

– Fr Frank Brennan is chief executive of Catholic Social Services Australia; Tim Costello is chief advocate of World Vision Australia; Robert Manne is an emeritus professor of politics at La Trobe University; and John Menadue is a former secretary of the Department of Immigration.

FULL STORY

The Manus Island agreement is a failure. Turnbull and Shorten need to accept it (Sydney Morning Herald)

Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO speaks out about the closure of Manus Island Regional Processing Centre. (Catholic Social Services Australia)

RELATED COVERAGE

Manus Island: Peter Dutton blames refugee advocates for making asylum seeker stand-off worse (News.com.au)

Ardern to raise Manus Island with Turnbull (SkyNews Australia)

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