1 Nov 2013

O'Neill says PNG ready to open more detention centres if Australia asks

9:08 am on 1 November 2013

Papua New Guinea's prime minister says his country is ready to open more asylum seeker detention centres if Australia asks.

Peter O'Neill says the asylum seeker deal signed with the previous Australian government has recently been affirmed by the new government.

He told a business group in Brisbane that the Manus Island detention centre is being rapidly expanded, and if needed his country will expand it even further, or approve the construction of other detention centres around the country.

He added that would go ahead if a request is made by the Australian government.

While he spoke at the Hilton Hotel a large contingent of police watched over a tiny group of noisy protesters outside calling for the Manus centre to be closed.

An incident last week on Manus involving members of PNG's police and military prompted a red alert at the centre, and staff had to be moved to a more secure location within the facility.

Australia's Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, was asked by reporters if he was confident of PNG's capacity to process asylum seekers at the centre, to which he replied there is nothing to suggest otherwise.

As of Friday, there were 1,061 detainees in the centre.