Manus to cost $250 million after closure

Manus Island regime will cost Australia up to $250 million a year after closure

The head of Australia’s Immigration Department has blamed activists and “troublesome outsiders” for a looming and potentially violent standoff over the closure of the refugee processing centre on Manus Island.

Bureaucrats also confirmed Australia will pay up to $250 million a year in services for refugees and asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea even after the facility shuts and Australian personnel leave next week.

And authorities will also have to confront a last-ditch legal challenge – in PNG or Australia – to stop the centre being shuttered on October 31 and returned to the PNG defence force.

Officials confirmed water, food, power and sanitation will be cut off at “some point” next Tuesday, prompting Greens senator Nick McKim to accuse the government of trying to “starve” refugees out of the centre.

A defiant Mike Pezzullo​, secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, blamed the looming flashpoint on a “vigorous campaign” by activists to convince refugees they should remain at the processing centre.

The 606 people refusing to leave the facility reflected “attitudes that are being stoked and fuelled by troublesome outsiders who are encouraging these poor souls”, Mr Pezzullo told the Senate estimates hearing.

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Michael Koziol – The Age – OCTOBER 23 2017