‘Duty of care must be upheld’: Cathy McGowan

Cathy McGowan says the unrest is Australia’s responsibility.
Cathy McGowan says the unrest is Australia’s responsibility.

INDI MP Cathy McGowan has backed a federal government probe into the “distressing” violence at the Manus Island Detention Centre.

But the independent MP also wants the government to release its findings from the investigation as soon as possible.

Ms McGowan said yesterday this would help reduce the uncertainty surrounding the incidents.

Both the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments have announced inquiries into violent clashes between security forces and asylum seekers on Manus Island.

One Iranian asylum seeker died, while 77 people were left injured.

That resulted in Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announcing an independent review to investigate the violence.

Ms McGowan said while the incidents happened overseas, “they are Australia’s responsibility”.

“The violence that has occurred at the Manus Island Detention Centre in the last several days is distressing,” she said.

“In this Parliament I have consistently voted against further reducing the rights of people seeking asylum in Australia.”

Ms McGowan said it could not be forgotten the government had a duty of care to the people detained in Australian detention centres.

That was regardless, she said, of whether they ended up being granted asylum or not.

“The government must take action to ensure that this duty of care is maintained,” she said.

Member for Farrer Sussan Ley said the Immigration Department review — already under way — was the “correct and standard procedure” to take.

“Importantly, (Prime Minister) Tony Abbott has spoken with Prime Minister (Peter) O’Neill, who has re-affirmed PNG’s ongoing commitment to offshore processing at the island and resettlement in Papua New Guinea,” Ms Ley said.

“We’ll also be liaising with PNG via our attorney-general to provide any support or assistance as may be needed.”

Ms McGowan said she had worked in Papua New Guinea and knew its people would also be “very distressed” about what had happened.

“The Australian government has good relations with the government of Papua New Guinea and must rely on their advice, especially if detainees granted asylum are to be settled there,” she said.