Dutton "caught out lying" on Manus Island events, says Greens senator

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has some explaining to do.

That’s the sentiment from Greens senator for Tasmania, Nick McKim, who travelled to Manus Island last week on a fact-finding mission almost a month after an outburst of violence saw a group of Papua New Guinean Navy personnel fire weapons into the detention centre.

Repeated claims made by Minister Peter Dutton, first aired by an Australian far-right group and linking asylum seekers and a young boy to the Good Friday gunfire, don’t stack up with the accounts from authorities and eyewitnesses, McKim told 4ZZZ.

Though denied entry to the centre itself, McKim spoke to asylum seekers outside the centre, regional police commander David Yapu, local MP Ronny Knight, and “dozens of eyewitnesses.”

“The Papua New Guinea police have told me explicitly, because I asked explicitly, that the event with the child … had nothing whatsoever to do with the shooting,” he said.

“I've spoken to people that were on the soccer field which was actually the event which led to a rise in tensions on the night of Good Friday.”

“I’ve spoken to detainees who were hit in the head by rocks thrown on that soccer field by members of the Papua New Guinea Navy and who basically fled for their life back into the camp just before the shooting started.”

The soccer field has been a site of friction since the detention centre supposedly came under the auspices of the nearby naval base earlier this year—an attempt by the PNG Government to justify ongoing elements of detention still present on Manus after the centre was “closed.”

Dutton, however, has repeatedly suggested that a young boy being led into the detention centre by asylum seekers almost a week earlier fed the escalated tensions.

"There was concern about why the boy was being led or for what purpose he was being led away back in the regional processing centre,” Dutton told Sky News a week after the violence.

Dutton has since repeated and defended the claims, citing confidential briefings, but has refused to make any information public. Andrew Bolt hinted at having seen CCTV footage that many, including McKim, are calling to be released. Bolt’s description of the footage—suggesting suspicion—aligns closely with the version of events told by local police and asylum seekers.

Likening Dutton’s position to the children overboard scandal, McKim said Dutton had been “caught out lying” and should resign.

On April 12, over a week before Dutton first made the claims, Reclaim Australia Rally posted an “exclusive” on their Facebook page. It detailed a “disturbing” incident that occurred on Saturday April 8 in which a seven-year-old boy was “smuggled into Oscar camp where it’s [sic] believed he was going to be raped,” before security “realised quickly and removed the Boy from danger!”

“The information we are posting comes from a direct source inside Manus,” the post read.

Reclaim Australia declined to comment on the issue.

Similar comments appeared five days later in an article published by The Australian. In the article, an Australian staff member who witnessed the violence but declined to be named, said tensions were high after three refugees had led a five-year-old naval personnel's son inside “for purposes unknown.”

McKim told 4ZZZ that the link to a Reclaim Australia “exclusive” only worsened Dutton’s position. “I don’t know where Reclaim Australia is getting their information—and by the way we don’t know where Peter Dutton is getting his information from either because he won’t tell us.

“What you’ve got here is Peter Dutton with one version of events and if that's corroborated by Reclaim Australia that just makes his situation even worse politically in my view,” he said.

“Peter Dutton’s got some explaining to do here.”

Dutton’s office has not responded to multiple previous requests for comment.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Manus Island regional processing facility.

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