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PNG may renegotiate refugee plan

Staff Reporter 8/05/2013 | |
PAPUA New Guinea will renegotiate its refugee resettlement plan with Australia if the Pacific island nation has trouble managing large numbers of asylum seekers.
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill told journalists in Port Moresby on Monday he would not speculate on how many asylum seekers will be sent to Manus Island, where Australia is currently housing more than 60 people.
Australian Immigration Minister Tony Burke last week flagged a major expansion of detention places on PNG, as the government implements its new hardline policy.
"I don't want to inflate numbers that I have not agreed to or (speculate on) what is likely to happen into the future," Mr O'Neill said in response to a question.
PNG PM Peter O'neill. Getty Images
"Of course, if numbers increase, we will sit down and go through it. I have stated this very clearly to the nation, this will be reviewed in 12 months time.
"This is not written in stone so that we cannot change it. We will address it if we have problems along the way."
On Sunday, the Australian opposition scoffed at reports the government had earmarked a new site on Manus Island for a tent city for up to 10,000 asylum seekers.
"Labor's claims ... are getting more and more desperate as the deal continues to unravel by the day," opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison told AAP.
He said the federal government had failed to provide details about how it would access land and build service roads and infrastructure on the remote island.
On the weekend, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced a similar resettlement plan with Nauru.

BY EOIN BLACKWELL, AAP 

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