11 Feb 2004

Australia promises to keep Manus Island detention open

4:41 pm on 11 February 2004

The Australian Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone has today defended a decision to keep open the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea, which has held a single asylum-seeker for the past six months.

Her defence followed a report in Melbourne's The Age newspaper today which said the federal government had paid $4.3 million to keep the centre open, even though since last July it has only held one person, Aladdin Sisalem.

Senator Vanstone said the centre was being kept open as a deterrent to asylum seekers, and may hold more detainees in future.

She told ABC Radio that it is an expensive option, but the Government would keep it as an option even if there wasn't anybody there.

The Minister says the centre was a deterrent to people smugglers.

She says Australia shifted to offshore processing because it thinks that is what really kills the people smugglers.