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The Greens party will launch an inquiry into a violent clash that occurred on Manus Island’s detention centre between the notorious Papua New Guinea police mobile squad hired to secure the centre, and the PNG army.
The opposition government and the Greens accused Immigration Minister Scott Morrison of a ”cover up” after the incident in October last year led Australian staff to be evacuated, while local staff and asylum seekers were left behind.
The Greens will initiate the inquiry on Wednesday requesting the sequence of events that led to the incident, allegations of shots being fired, and what, if any, communication was given to Mr Morrison at the time.
”The government’s policy of rampant secrecy across the immigration network is dangerous and it needs to be exposed,” the Greens’ immigration spokeswoman, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
”A picture of confusion and chaos has emerged in regard to this incident on PNG and the government’s obsession with secrecy has left us with no option other than to launch an inquiry.
”Reports of staff evacuations, shots being fired and refugees being left to fend for themselves are very concerning.”
There are currently more than 1000 people being held on Manus Island, Ms Hanson-Young said.
”The government is arrogantly ignoring the Australian people and their right to know,” she said.
The inquiry comes after a Fairfax Media investigation revealed that amid the panic security guards left their posts, communications broke down, there was no official chain of command and no emergency response plan was made for an outside threat.
They also show that, after reports of guns being drawn, only expats were ordered to be evacuated, without the knowledge of the G4S security officers.
A spokesman for the Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, said he maintains there was no “evacuation” and there had been “no credible reports” that weapons had been drawn.
“As such any investigation into the alleged conflict is and remains a matter for PNG authorities,” the spokesman said.
This month Mr Morrison has continued to harden his asylum seeker policy. On Wednesday he will introduce changes to the Migration Act in the House of Representatives.
Under the proposed changes, supported by the Labor party, all asylum seekers who are given a negative assessment by ASIO will be automatically denied a permanent visa. They will, however, be allowed an independent review of their assessment.
Visas will also be applied effective immediately, rather than waiting until the person is informed and, if a person is denied a protection visa, they can never apply for one again.
Last Friday it was revealed the government had quietly reintroduced a temporary protection visa, which is revived by human rights groups as being inhumane and cruel.
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