January 20, 2013

PNG opposition's action point scoring: Ronny Knights

PNG Opposition Leader: Belden Namah: Photo Credit: ABC Radio Autralia

PAPUA New Guinea's opposition is just trying to score points by mounting a legal challenge against an Australian refugee processing facility, a Manus Island MP says.
PNG's opposition leader, Belden Namah, on Sunday announced a legal challenge to the Manus facility.
But Manus MP Ronnie Knight says Mr Namah should have announced his opposition to the site during the last term of government, when he was Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's deputy.
"It's just point scoring," Mr Knight told AAP.
"If the shoe was on the other foot and he was prime minister, he would be pushing for Manus.
"It's been done before and it worked, and there was a political decision to stop it. We feel if (processing) is not done here, it will be done elsewhere."
AAP is seeking comment from Attorney-General Kerenga Kua.
In a conversation before Sunday's announcement, Mr Kua said he had invited the opposition to sit down with him to discuss the centre, but has not had a reply.
Lawyers acting for Mr Namah filed a summons with PNG's National Court on Friday.
The injunction seeks to have the current detainees released and to prevent the government from receiving or detaining any more asylum seekers from Australia.
Mr Namah said in a statement that he regretted taking the action against the PNG government, but he believed the processing centre was unconstitutional.
"The ministers of the O'Neill-Dion government have now received a summons to appear and defend their conduct in the National Court," he said in the statement.
Mr Namah said the detainees on Manus were being held illegally in PNG.
"We will take this matter as far as necessary to ensure that the values of our nation's constitution are upheld," he said.
"This legal challenge also attempts to remedy the many abuses of PNG law and of ministerial powers which have given rise to the situation on Manus."
He said the opposition challenged the right of the government to force people seeking refugee status in Australia to enter PNG, where they were being held "illegally and indefinitely under inhumane conditions".
The motivation for the court challenge has also drawn comment in Australia.
Labor parliamentary secretary Mark Dreyfus questioned why it was occurring.
"I think when you've got the opposition leader in Papua New Guinea bringing a proceeding in the Supreme Court ... it does smack of politics," he told Sky News on Monday.
PNG's National Court is yet to set a date to hear the challenge, while court officers say the case is unlikely to be heard in January.


Author: verified_user