Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court Dismisses Challenge to Manus Island Detention Centre

LORENGAU (MANUS) - A constitutional challenge to Australia's detention centre on Manus Island could be be resurrected as early as next week.

Loani Henao, the lawyer for Papua New Guinea Opposition Leader Belden Namah, declared his intention to renew the challenge on Thursday, moments after Justice David Cannings dismissed the case in PNG's Supreme Court.

Namah had challenged the PNG government's ability to sign a memorandum of understanding with Australia to fly in asylum seekers.

Outside the court, Henao said he was happy with the decision but would begin work on a fresh challenge.

“It brings clarity to the issues in the proceedings,” he told reporters.

“We will now proceed to resurrect the application... we will be filing that definitely either Monday or Tuesday next week.

“Mr Namah is definitely proceeding with this matter.”

Justice Cannings ruled that Namah did not follow proper procedure when he filed the challenge on March 1 this year.

He found that the summons used did not comply with Supreme Court rules, which came into effect in late 2012, and it was incorrect for Mr Henao to file the application instead of his client.

“We uphold the submission... that the amended originating summons is entirely non-compliant with the requirements of the Supreme Court Rules 2012, and that the applicant has used an improper mode of commencement,” Justice Cannings said.

“In such situations in the past, the approach of the court has been to conclude that this is a matter that goes to the jurisdiction of the court and renders the proceedings incompetent.

“We see no reason to depart from that approach.”

The dismissal brings at least a temporary close to months of legal haggling, with much of the debate focused on the method used to bring the challenge.

Meanwhile, Australia will press ahead with plans to build a $137 million permanent processing centre on Manus Island.

Construction company Decmil will build the 600-bed centre as well as a 200-room accommodation complex for staff.

Work is set to start this month, with a completion date set for January 31, 2014. [AAP]
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