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Asylum Seekers arrive in PNG under new plan

Staff Reporter 7/31/2013 | |
THE first group of asylum seekers subject to Labor's tough new resettlement policy has arrived in Papua New Guinea and more are expected to follow within days.
The 40 mainly Iranian and Afghan men were flown from Christmas Island late on Wednesday and touched down on Manus Island at 7.40am (AEST) on Thursday.
"As of now they are the first people in Papua New Guinea who are realising the people smugglers no longer have a product to sell," Immigration Minister Tony Burke told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.
"The promise of living and working in Australia, which is sold by people smugglers before they push people onto the high seas, is no longer a product available."
The immigration department posted a video of the men being taken from their Christmas Island detention centre and boarding a plane to Manus Island.
The video is posted under a banner that reads: "If you come here by boat without a visa, you won't be settled in Australia."
Boat people arrive in PNG. Photo/AAP
Mr Burke said "more and more" asylum seekers would be flown to PNG in the coming days.
"Over time, every single person who arrives under these new rules will find the government is true to its word," he said.
The minister said he had removed women and children from Manus Island because he didn't think the facilities were up to scratch, but they were being improved and family groups would be sent there soon.
Dr Otto Numan, CEO of Manus Island's only hospital, told AAP he checked the asylum seekers' names against the manifest.
"We are expecting more tomorrow," he said on Thursday. "The youngest is 18."
The asylum seekers will join 26 others at the temporary asylum seeker centre at Lombrum.
Australia is installing large tents capable of sleeping up to 30.
The Australian Greens called it a sad day for fairness and decency.
"The government is storming ahead with this cruel policy that is an attack on Australia's generous heart and our global reputation," Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
More than 1400 asylum seekers have arrived aboard 18 boats since the Rudd government announced its "hardline" PNG arrangement on July 19.


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