The West

An Australian team comprising defence force personnel and immigration officials will head to Papua New Guinea in coming days to start work on setting up the asylum seeker processing facility on Manus Island.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen told reporters in Canberra that 30 ADF personnel and two immigration department staff were preparing to head to PNG.

The Minister signed an updated memorandum of understanding with Papua New Guinea on the weekend to reopen the Manus Island facility.

Mr Bowen also has signed the legislative instrument designating Nauru as a regional processing country under the Migration Act.

The document will be tabled in parliament on Monday and require a resolution approving Nauru be passed by both houses.

Logistics group Transfield has been given the contract to run the Nauru facility, Mr Bowen said.

Mr Bowen said the Government also had contracted the Salvation Army to provide support services to asylum seekers on Nauru.

He said there had been extensive planning ahead of the transfer of people to Nauru.

“The Governments of Australia and Nauru have been working towards a transfer to occur in the latter part of this week,” he said.

“After the parliament approval process is completed I will be making further announcements about logistical arrangements.”

Mr Bowen said the Government had worked closely with its lawyers to minimise the prospects of a challenge in the courts.

“This is a very litigious area,” he said.

“I'm sure that lawyers on both sides will be examining their options.

“Our obligation is to ensure our case is on as strong a ground as possible.”

The Minister said the Salvation Army was an appropriate agency to run services.

“The Salvation Army is not there to proselytise - they are there to provide services as they do across Australia on a daily basis to people of all faiths and backgrounds,” he said.


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