March 15, 2013
The Greens have renewed their calls for the Manus Island detention centre to be shut down after a group of asylum seekers had to be flown to Australia for medical treatment.
The 19 asylum seekers were transferred to the Inverbrackie detention centre in the Adelaide Hills last night.
It is understood six women in the group are pregnant and a young girl requires specialist medical care.
An Immigration Department spokesman would not comment on her medical condition but said it was not contagious.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the issue underscores the need for the Manus Island centre to be closed down.
“It’s not saving lives, it’s not even stopping boats,” she said.
“In fact it’s harming people.”
The Opposition says last night’s transfer is further evidence of the Government’s bungled border protection policy.
Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says medical facilities on Manus Island are not adequate for pregnant women.
“The Government was dragged kicking and screaming to offshore processing, and their rushed and bungled approach here I think we’re seeing the evidence of.”
But the chief of the public hospital on Manus Island, Dr Otto Numan, says the pregnant women could have had their babies safely delivered there.
“If there are complications and they need to you know have them delivered by operative means we are able to do that without any problem,” he said.
Dr Numan says their transfer back to Australia makes a mockery of PNG’s health system.
He says other detainees have been brought to the hospital for dental work, x-rays and other procedures.
It has been more than a month since Australia sent asylum seekers to the centre, although the Immigration Minister has rejected suggestions that Papua New Guinea has imposed an indefinite suspension on future transfers.
Meanwhile, the Government says 65 asylum seekers from a boat intercepted north of Christmas Island yesterday have been transferred to the island for processing.