March 03, 2014
SCOTT Morrison says he is developing “a clearer picture” of what occurred during the Manus Island riot, although he still does not know who killed asylum-seeker Reza Berati.
The Immigration Minister and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have announced plans for monthly meetings with their Papua New Guinea counterparts to “directly oversee’’ the implementation of refugee resettlement in the country, and $420 million in special aid projects linked to the deal.
At the meeting the two countries agreed to “synthesise’’ the various inquiries into the February 17 riot at the Manus asylum-seeker camp, including an arms-length Australian review and local police and coronial investigations.
Asked if the government was any closer to knowing what happened the night of the violence, Mr Morrison today told ABC Radio: “We are getting a clearer picture.’’
But the minister said he did not know who killed Mr Berati, a 23-year-old Iranian asylum-seeker, nor who fired shots during the disturbance that wounded another man in the buttocks.
“I’m hopeful and confident that we will be able to determine what happened on that night,’’ Mr Morrison said.
“All of these questions are matters for the review, and I’m going to let the review do its job.’’
A post-mortem found Mr Berati was killed by repeated blows to the head, likely caused by a piece of wood.
It has also emerged that the violence that led to his death likely occurred inside the perimeter of the centre.
Asked if he could ensure the safety of asylum-seekers on Manus, Mr Morrison said: “If they are going to cooperate with those who are looking after them and not engage in riotous behaviour, then obviously the risk that present significantly diminish.”
The ministerial forum is designed to “directly oversee” the Regional Resettlement Arrangement between the two countries, under which asylum-seekers recognised as genuine refugees will be resettled within PNG.
Although the resettlement policy was announced by then prime minister Kevin Rudd in July last year, none of the approximately 1330 refugees transferred to Manus Island have yet been processed.
Mr Morrison said processing had already begun at the facility, and there were a large number of cases “almost decision-ready’’.
“It could take months. I don’t think it will take (a year). Over the next few months I think we’re going to make real progress,’’ he said.
Greens senators are today expected to instigate a parliamentary inquiry into the violence that killed Mr Berati and injured 62 others last month.
Without government support, a Senate inquiry would require the support of Labor senators, who were last night undecided about whether to support the move.
Mr Morrison avoided questions about how he could in good conscience send asylum-seekers to Manus in the wake of the violence.
No boats had arrived in more than 70 days, he said.
“And when there are no boats coming I don’t have to send anyone,’’ he said.