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Manus Islands transfer 'leaves smugglers nothing to sell'

IMMIGRATION Minister Tony Burke says the first transfer of asylum-seekers to Manus Island under the government's new offshore settlement arrangement with Papua New Guinea will show people smugglers they no longer have a "product to sell".

A group of 40 single men, predominantly Iranian and Afghan asylum-seekers, were moved from Christmas Island on Wednesday night and arrived on Manus Island on Thursday  morning.

The men will be assessed, and if they are found to be refugees they will be settled in PNG.

"As of now there are the first 40 people in Papua New Guinea who are realising that the people smugglers no longer have a product to sell," Mr Burke told reporters in Sydney on Thursday morning.

"That the promise of living and working in Australia, which is sold by people smugglers before they push people onto the high seas, is no longer a product available."

Mr Burke said the more than 1300 asylum-seekers, who have arrived by boat since July 19, would be gradually transferred to PNG.

Further transfers are expected as early as Friday as capacity on Manus is expanded.

"In the coming days there will be more and more who are flown across and over time, every single person who arrives under these new rules will find that the government is true to its word. And they will not be settled in Australia," he said.

Greens Leader Christine Milne described the group's arrival on Manus Island as a "sad day for fairness and decency".

Senator Milne this week called on both sides of politics to close detention camps in PNG and Nauru, increase Australia's humanitarian intake to 30,000 people and abandon policies of deterrence.

"The government is storming ahead with this cruel policy that is an attack on Australia's generous heart and our global reputation," she said.

"Everyone knows the conditions in the Manus Island camp are horrid and inhumane, but it is clear the government just doesn't care.

"Kevin Rudd is more interested in competing with Tony Abbott in the race to the bottom than putting in place policies that will save lives and care for refugees."

Topics:  asylum seekers editors picks federal election refugees tony burke


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