Dear Ms Halbert
Thank you for your correspondence of 31 July 2017 to the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, concerning the closure of the Manus Regional Processing Centre (RPC); and the Australian Government's regional processing and settlement arrangements. Your correspondence has been referred to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection as the matters raised fall within his portfolio responsibilities. The Minister appreciates the time you have taken to bring these matters to his attention and has asked that I reply on his behalf.
Papua New Guinea (PNG), with Australia's support, will close the Manus RPC by 31 October 2017. After this date, Australia will not have an ongoing role in regional processing arrangements in PNG.
RPC residents are aware that the RPC will close by 31 October 2017 and the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority (ICSA) is providing them with information about their options.
ICSA has been clear with refugee residents that they have other accommodation options available, such as:
- temporarily relocating to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre or to accommodation in the PNG community;
- settling permanently in PNG;
- returning home voluntarily with reintegration assistance; or
- moving to a third country they have the right to reside in.
Non-refugee residents should return home voluntarily with reintegration assistance or they will be involuntarily removed from PNG by the Government of PNG, without any reintegration assistance.
Closure of the Manus RPC is a significant step towards resolving the regional processing caseload. However, closure of the Manus RPC is not the end of regional processing arrangements. In cooperation with the Government of Nauru, Australia will retain an enduring regional processing capacity in Nauru. Australia will continue to intercept and turn back any people smuggling boats that attempt to reach Australia. Closure of the Manus RPC does not weaken Australia's borders and the Australian Government's border protection policies are here to stay.
The Government remains committed to regional processing and resettlement and stopping the scourge of people smugglers and deaths at sea.
Thank you for bringing your views to the Government's attention.
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Director ABF Ministerial Correspondence Section Support Group - Australian Border Force
29 August 2017