Dutton defends his version of Manus Island shooting


Australia’s immigration minister is sticking to his version of events surrounding a young boy entering the Manus Island asylum seeker centre, despite the claims differing from information provided by local police.

Peter Dutton says he has information that isn’t public and he still believes the incident sparked a shooting at the Papua New Guinea immigration detention centre on Good Friday.

The minister last week said PNG defence personnel may have opened fire because three asylum seekers were spotted leading a five-year-old boy towards the immigration centre.

On Sunday he said his briefing on the matter had been “particularly succinct and clear”.

“I have senior people on the island. We also have a significant contact with the governor and people of Manus,” Mr Dutton told ABC TV.

Watch: Dutton weighs in on Manus shooting

“I think that there are facts that I have that you don’t so why don’t we let the police investigation run its course.”

However, Manus province police commander David Yapu has told media the boy in question was 10 and he was taken to a tent where asylum seekers were packing food, given some fruit and sent away again – all about a week before the shooting.

This version is reportedly backed up by CCTV footage, which Mr Dutton said may be released after a police investigation.

Mr Yapu blamed the shooting and brawl – which injured at least one asylum seeker – on “drunken” soldiers, while the PNG Defence Force says it was sparked by an altercation on a nearby football field when asylum seekers refused to leave the ground at their curfew time.

Mr Dutton said he raised the incident with the boy in response to questions about the “elevated mood” on the ground that may have led to the shooting.

That mood was also ramped up by the recent charging of two asylum seekers with sexual assault, the minister said – although they deny the charges and have yet to face court.

“If you’re asking me about why there was an elevation of the angst between those that are living – including on the naval base – on Manus, this was part of it,” Mr Dutton said.

“These two incidents fed directly into that. That is indisputable.”

He acknowledged the dispute at the soccer game was also “part of the facts of the whole lead-up to the unfortunate incident”.