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Salvos attack Canberra over Manus Island report

Asylum seeker Reza Barati.

Asylum seeker Reza Barati. Photo: Kate Geraghty

The Salvation Army has attacked the Abbott government and its independent report on the Manus Island violence, maintaining the innocence of a worker accused of delivering the final blow to Reza Barati's skull.

During the second day of a Senate inquiry into the Manus Island attack in February, the Salvation Army said the Papua New Guinea police had not yet contacted it, despite investigating Mr Barati's death.

The inquiry also heard that another bloody attack inside the Manus Island detention centre was imminent, with G4S whistleblower Steve Kilburn warning that tension had risen considerably.

Salvation Army's chief executive Sharon Callister then attacked the government, claiming the organisation had been misrepresented by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, and that the government's independent Cornall review had reported ''selectively''.

''The way in which the minister made reference to the event in question gave the very clear impression, which was picked up by media, that the Salvation Army staff member was found by Mr Cornall to have engaged in the assault in question,'' Ms Callister said. ''The Salvation Army is profoundly disappointed the minister made such comments in the absence of any clear and reliable evidence.''

The Salvation Army says the worker, who is no longer working for it, was trying to save asylum seekers rather than injure them.

In the lead-up to the violence, there was a dangerous combination of cultural, racial and educational differences between the asylum seekers, Australian expats and PNG workers that contributed to a ''bubbling tension'', the inquiry heard.

''It is almost an unmanageable situation up there and there are too many external factors at play to enable the place to be run safely and securely, regardless of who the contractor is,'' Mr Kilburn said.

There was also a ''huge contradiction'' that if the Australian government was to improve the conditions in the centre, it will only breed more resentment from PNG locals, Mr Kilburn said. ''Manus Island is the wrong place to have a regional processing centre.''

The inquiry also heard from migration agency Playfair, which is responsible for preparing asylum seekers' statements submitted for the refugee claim process, that three processing teams had their trips to Manus Island cancelled at short notice.

The inquiry continues.

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81 comments

  • When in opposition the LNP opposed the Malaysian option on the grounds that Malaysia was not a signatory to the UNHCR Treaty, so Manus Island became the home of this obscenity. The LNP looks all sweet and lovely now ?

    Commenter
    adam
    Location
    yarrawonga
    Date and time
    June 12, 2014, 7:44AM
    • @ adam - FYI manus Island, this time, was established by the ALP in a final, and my view shameful, attempt to stop the political damage caused by the asylum seekers. Not the LNP.
      The Malaysian soloution was as bad.
      Both sides were playing the crassest of politics so dish it out to the coalition by all means but save plenty for your, seemingly, heroes in Labor.

      Commenter
      Wennicks
      Date and time
      June 12, 2014, 8:47AM
    • Wennicks, I'm pretty sure adam is aware that the Manus Island option was a kneejerk attempt by an increasingly desperate ALP to display toughness in light of the LNP's 'stop the boats' mantra - in order to try and retain leadership. No one would argue with you over this point.
      However, the LNP and others did reject Gillard's option to process asylum seekers in Malaysia and it was shouted down on the grounds that their safety could not be guaranteed in that country. Fair enough.
      The point is that now the LNP is in government and they have maintained Manus as their preference for offshore processing, they have not been able to maintain a safe environment, which is why scores of young men were seriously injured and one was killed. This is completely unacceptable.
      The Immigration Minister continues to display ignorance - and even indifference - when pressed over what took place during the period of February's unrest. Morrison has skirted the truth and made false statements that he has had to repudiate. I'm sure that on the night Reza Barati was killed, there was much confusion - and therefore confused reports on what happened, but I personally think it is the Minister's responsibility - aided by his department - to go out of his way to uncover the truth of what really happened and be transparent about it. After all, a death occurred and no matter what your position is on the issue of asylum seekers or your political persuasion, we cannot avoid that fact.
      And yes, as Mr Kilburn says in this article: "Manus Island is the wrong place to have a regional processing centre".

      Commenter
      Jules
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 12, 2014, 11:20AM
    • Nobody can deny that Labor reacting to Abbott's great big aggressive mouth was wrong. and I would not to attempt to do that. Offshore processing was a response to Abbott's shockingly deceitful stupidity by using the 'border protection' and 'carbon tax' rubbish to win an election. Labor should have just called him out into the open and met him head on. What is happening now is inexcusable. Somebody should have grabbed Abbott by the throat in parliament.
      Before Abbott was elected I had no liking of the LNP, - NOW THEY ARE DEAD !

      Commenter
      adam
      Location
      yarrawonga
      Date and time
      June 12, 2014, 1:45PM
    • Actually Beazley should have met Howard head on at the time of Tampa. Beazley should have called him out on all the lies, but especially he should have nailed Howard when Howard labelled these people a threat to our borders and to our national security.

      Our whole response to asylum seekers is built on a flimsy scaffold of lies, and it is to our shame that we tolerate it.

      Commenter
      Ross
      Location
      MALLABULA
      Date and time
      June 12, 2014, 1:53PM
    • Hi Jules
      Thanks for the adding of details. My political "persuasion" on this matter is I think both major parties are culpable in this human tragedy.
      What adam was pushing was the ALP good, LNP bad line on Manus Island.
      As some of my regular debators on these pages would know I am the result of refugee parents so have strong sympathies to their plight. I suspect we're on the same page here.
      However to lay it all on the LNP's door is biased in the extreme. Adam might care to look at each issue with a fresh perspective in future.
      BTW the Malaysia "soloution" was almost worse than the Libs answer. As much as I disliked that at least, and its a small least, it discouraged people risking their lives on boats (as has been proven again).

      Commenter
      Wennicks
      Date and time
      June 12, 2014, 2:57PM
  • Why are the Salvos attacking the Govt? It was the asylum seekers themselves who identified the Salvo as the one who dealt with the dead Iranian. These people do not lie!

    Commenter
    The Bujoo
    Date and time
    June 12, 2014, 7:45AM
    • Because like all of us who aren't blinded by our own political preferences the Salvos know from experience Morrison and Abbott's penchant for misrepresentation, distortion, diversion and outright lies. Answer your question?

      Commenter
      rext
      Date and time
      June 12, 2014, 8:37AM
    • 'These people do not lie!'
      Nor does the Abbott government when it is using 'the cone of silence' ?

      Commenter
      adam
      Location
      yarrawonga
      Date and time
      June 12, 2014, 8:41AM
    • If Scott Morrison told us the Salvos were to blame, then it's a good chance it's a lie.

      Commenter
      jofek
      Date and time
      June 12, 2014, 8:47AM

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