FRANK BRENNAN. Questions Ardern can ask Turnbull about Manus.

When Prime Minister Turnbull meets with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday, he will receive a renewed offer of help from New Zealand in relation to Manus Island.  For the last four years, New Zealand has offered to take 150 refugees from Manus Island.  Messrs Turnbull and Dutton have seen fit, unilaterally and contrary to the signed agreement with PNG, to step in (on behalf of PNG presumably) and refuse New Zealand’s offer of help.  At the same time, they continue to say that these refugees are the responsibility of PNG.  It’s hard to see how they continue to have it both ways. 

The original agreement signed by Prime Ministers Rudd and O’Neill on 19 July 2013 states:

‘Commencing on the day of announcement, any unauthorized maritime arrival entering Australian waters will be liable for transfer to Papua New Guinea (in the first instance, Manus Island) for processing and resettlement in Papua New Guinea and in any other participating regional, including Pacific Island, states. Papua New Guinea undertakes for an initial twelve-month period to accept unauthorised maritime arrivals for processing and, if successful in their application for refugee status, resettlement. This program will be for 12 months and will be subject to review on an annual basis through the Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum.’

Prime Minister Ardern might like to ask Prime Minister Turnbull: 

  • Since when has New Zealand not been a participating regional state?
  • Why does Australia view New Zealand as a non-participating regional state?
  • Why can’t PNG continue to treat New Zealand as a participating regional state?
  • With the last four annual reviews of this agreement by the Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum, what further agreement has there been between Australia and Papua New Guinea ruling out resettlement in other participating regional states like New Zealand?
  • As New Zealand is a full and active participant in the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime which was said to be part of the background of the 2013 agreement, how can Australia unilaterally rule out offers of regional assistance from New Zealand to Papua New Guinea?

Of course, Prime Minister Ardern will already be aware that the Australian Government knowingly authorised, (requested?)  and paid for the illegal and unconstitutional detention of these refugees on Manus Island despite the agreement stipulating that everything done was to be consistent with the laws and Constitution of PNG.  So she will be aware that we are not working in the realm of respectful international relations underpinned by the rule of law.  She will be well aware that the ex-colonial power continues to wield authority with the cheque book, and that when it comes to Australian ‘border protection’, anything goes.  None of this will appeal to Ms Ardern, and neither should it.  Sunday’s meeting should be interesting.

Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO, is the CEO  of Catholic Social Services Australia


Frank Brennan SJ is the CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia and the Rector of Newman.

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6 Responses to FRANK BRENNAN. Questions Ardern can ask Turnbull about Manus.

  1. Avatar Frank Brennan says:

    We Australians have to wear the rap for whatever happens on Manus Island. See

  2. Avatar Mike Yewdall says:

    PM Turnbull has again rather brusquely knocked back New Zealand’s offer in this dreadful matter. As the Australian government trashes Australia’s international reputation PM Ardern may be thankful of Julie Bishop’s threat to distrust New Zealand. A new platform for engagement between our two countries may be just what is required if Turnbull goes the way of his predecessor and either Bishop or Dutton find themselves holding onto the whip.

  3. Avatar Terry Burns says:

    If our treatment of our indigenous citizens was not bad enough, this whole episode shames us all. It was drummed into us as school children about ANZAC etc being undertaken
    in the cause of freedom and look what we are doing. We cannot lecture anyone about human rights. And to top it all, there is actual talk of this Dutton becoming PM. Where are our true leaders ?

  4. Avatar Pat McAloon says:

    It is pleasing to see someone from the Catholic Church speaking out and ” cutting through” on this disgraceful situation.
    I have forwarded to my local MP Dan Tehan , Member for Wannon for his attention .
    Well done Frank Brennan

  5. Avatar Frank Brennan says:

    If Mr Turnbull rejects Ms Ardern’s offer tomorrow, three things will be very clear. (1) The refugees on Manus Island and Nauru are PRIMARILY Australia’s responsibility and Australia needs to find a permanent solution. It will be time for Julie Bishop to drop all talk about their being the responsibility of PNG. (2) PNG is viewed as a client state and the Australian cheque book rather than the rule of law and comity of international relations is determinative. PNG politicians will have to understand that even though it is their communities which are hosting these refugees, they have no power to decide where to send them. It’s Canberra’s call. (3) The agreement signed by Prime Ministers Rudd and O’Neill in July 2013 is not worth the paper it’s written on. Australia does what it likes when it comes to border protection, and PNG just has to wear the consequences. That’s why their ex-colonial masters are paying them. See

  6. Avatar Jaquix says:

    By what I have seen of Jacinda Adhern and her meteoric rise to the Prime Ministership of New Zealand at the age of 37, she will be very well equipped to deal with Malcolm Turnbull. His silver (but forked) tongue will not work on her. With Bill Shorten also coming out at last with offers to help bring the situation to an end, perhaps we will see some action at long last. The Liberals have done virtually nothing about re-settling these poor unfortunate souls. That is to their eternal shame. The end result could have been so different, but IMO they lack the will and motivation. Too many sociopathic types in their ranks, devoid of empathy, and having a mindset that does not have any room for putting themselves in anyone elses shoes. They like their own shoes, and thats the end of it.

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