Immigration Minister Scott Morrison: "The key thing here is: we’ve got to get this processing moving and we’ve got to get the resettlement in place. After all, this was a resettlement arrangement, not just a processing arrangement.” Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Refugee applications by asylum seekers on Manus Island are being processed and in some cases are almost "decision-ready", according to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.
Confusion about processing arrangements is believed to have played a key role in sparking the unrest on Manus Island that eventually led to the death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati last month.
Asked on ABC radio on Monday morning when Papua New Guinea will begin processing asylum seekers, Mr Morrison said: "Well, they already have begun and there already are quite a number of cases which are almost decision-ready, and that's something we want to see progress.
"I mean, the key thing here is: we've got to get this processing moving and we've got to get the resettlement in place. After all, this was a resettlement arrangement, not just a processing arrangement."
Then-prime minister Kevin Rudd announced last July that the PNG government had agreed to resettle refugees, but seven months later no refugees have been resettled there.
Mr Morrison announced on Sunday that the foreign affairs and immigration ministers of both countries will hold monthly discussions to co-ordinate the Regional Resettlement Arrangement.
"The resettlement arrangements with Papua New Guinea were a blank sheet of paper when it came to the previous government," Mr Morrison said.
"All the details, all the hard work has had to be done over the last five months. And there's a lot of hard work ahead."
Mr Morrison said it could be months before PNG is ready to resettle refugees, but he does not believe it will take a year.