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'Monster' Dutton under attack over Manus closure

National

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has been labelled a “monster” over the closure of the Manus Island detention centre as hundreds of former detainees barricade themselves inside.

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Greens senator Nick McKim, who is on Manus Island, said he had seen first hand the suffering of 600 people and anybody who would deliberately cause such harm “easily qualifies” as a monster.

Dutton on Tuesday attacked Senator McKim for spreading false information and inciting trouble in the tense final hours of the centre’s shutdown.

McKim said it was a “badge of hounour” to be attacked by a “monster” like Dutton.

“I take it as confirmation that I’m on the right track and I should keep on exposing the truth about what’s happening on Manus Island.”

Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop said it made “no sense” for detainees to remain in the centre, but she won’t guarantee their safety if they leave the camp.

“The Papua New Guinea government is a sovereign government and is responsible for law and order and security on their islands in their nation,” Bishop told ABC radio today.

“It makes no sense for these people to remain on Manus Island because the essential services have been transferred to alternative accommodation.”

Bishop said food, water, electricity and medical services would be provided.

Electricity has so far been cut to at least half the buildings at the centre at Lombrum Navy Base as detainees refusing to leave for fear of their safety nervously await their future.

Authorities are facing a stand-off with detainees unwilling to go and locals are reportedly blocking the construction of new refugee accommodation, with doubts about whether there are enough beds.

The refugees and asylum seekers who remain inside the compound in PNG have little water left and their electricity generators have either been switched off or let run out of fuel.

The last food packs were distributed to them on Sunday night.

Tamil refugee Srirangan told AAP on Tuesday refugees were concerned about dehydration but feared for their lives as well, with troops from PNG expected to arrive on Wednesday.

Authorities in PNG have said they will move refugees and asylum seekers into purpose-built accommodation in the nearby town of Lorengau.

Hussein, originally from Iraqi Kurdistan, said the facility wasn’t ready and that locals had blocked and protested its construction.

Some locals have looted tents, tables, boxes, fire alarms, fans and air conditioners from the decomissioned centre.

PNG lawyer Ben Lomai has lodged a legal application on behalf of detainees to block the centre’s closure.

The constitution in PNG held enforceable protections for human rights, which Mr Lomai said had been breached.

The Lombrum centre was forced to close after the PNG Supreme Court ruled in April 2016 that Australia’s detention of refugees and asylum seekers there was illegal and unconstitutional.

Six detainees have died on Manus Island – including one who was murdered – since it was reopened in 2012.

– AAP

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