'I did nothing wrong': deported Senator Nick McKim defends Manus efforts

Greens Senator Nick McKim has defended his actions after being deported by Papua New Guinea for trying to access the Manus Island detention centre, saying the incident highlighted the "veil of secrecy" that hung over Australia's offshore processing system.

Senator McKim, who was deported on Friday, rejected the PNG government's claim he had failed to seek official permission to visit the centre.

Greens Senator Nick McKim says he has done 'nothing wrong'.

Greens Senator Nick McKim says he has done 'nothing wrong'. Credit:Peter Mathew

"This is why the Australian Government, under Labor at the time and since then under the Liberal Party, this is why they re-established offshore detention, so that there is a veil of secrecy that settles over what's happening on Manus Island, what's happening on Nauru," he told the ABC on Saturday.

"And people like me, and journalists who want to expose the truth, are simply prevented from doing so. And that is what enables the terrible human rights abuses that we've seen over the last six years."

Senator McKim said he had previously been granted a six-month, multiple-entry visa for PNG, and had emailed immigration officials to request permission to visit the Manus Island detention centre, but received no response.


"I walked up on the public road to the gate of the centre and politely asked to go in," he said.

"They said I demanded to be let in. I did not ... I have acted in the same way that I have acted on all of my other trips to Manus Island. I always treat officials with respect."

Senator McKim said his passport was confiscated after he tried to enter the East Lorengau facility and he was later issued a deportation notice.

"I've done nothing wrong here," he told the ABC from Brisbane.

PNG chief migration officer Solomon Kantha said Senator McKim had failed to seek formal approval to visit the detention centre and had instead “demanded” entry.

“It is regrettable that he appears to have attempted to circumvent the processes that are known to him and in doing so, placed undue pressure on a junior ICA [Immigration and Citizenship Authority] officer who was simply performing their duties,” Mr Kantha said.

Delta compound at the Manus Island centre.

Delta compound at the Manus Island centre.Credit:AAP

“Mr McKim has demonstrated a flagrant disregard for PNG and contempt for the organisations he claims to represent.”

Thousands of activists rallied in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide on Saturday in protest against offshore processing, marking the sixth year since the Rudd Labor government reintroduced offshore detention for asylum seekers who arrived by boat.

Refugee Shaminda Kanapathi, who has been on Manus Island since 2013, was to address supporters via video link on Saturday.

"All of the men who remain detained on Manus are highly depressed and stressed now. We have become very vulnerable and completely powerless," the 28-year-old told AAP on Friday.

James Marape was due to kick off a six-day visit to Australia on the weekend.

James Marape was due to kick off a six-day visit to Australia on the weekend.Credit:Australian Broadcasting Corporation

"We have no control over what happens to us, even the most intimate decisions are made for us.

"Our lives have stopped. And every minute passes, and we have lost six years already."

There will be 27 rallies held across capital cities and regional towns.

The prime minister of Papua New Guinea is demanding a deadline for ending the offshore processing of asylum seekers on Manus Island.

James Marape will urge the Morrison government to fix a timeline when he arrives in Australia for an official six-day visit this weekend.

"We would like it to be ended as soon as possible," he told ABC radio.

About 450 asylum seekers remain in PNG and another 350 are being held on Nauru.

with AAP

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