• Environment Minister Tony Burke will table the national Murray-Darling Basin plan in parliament.
Immigration Minister Tony Burke says allegations of rape and torture among asylum seekers on Manus Island are horrific. 
24 Jul 2013 - 9:14 AM  UPDATED 26 Aug 2013 - 10:48 AM

Immigration Minister Tony Burke will visit Manus Island this week to address horrific allegations raised by a former security guard at the Papua New Guinea detention centre.

The former Head of Occupational Health and Safety, Rod St George, made a series of disturbing allegations about conditions at the Australian-run centre in an exclusive interview with Dateline on SBS ONE.

“I've never seen human beings so destitute, so helpless and so hopeless before,” he told reporter Mark Davis, as he described repeated instances of rape and sexual abuse between asylum seekers with the full knowledge of staff.

“We might separate people in those circumstances on the mainland, but there aren't any facilities at Manus to do that, so these people who have been assaulted are forced to remain back in the tent,” he said.

St George also described how detainee 'heavies' forced other asylum seekers to sew their lips together, and he detailed how one man had an ear drum perforated when he was tortured by other detainees.

Mr St George expanded on his allegations on Wednesday morning, saying the problems were exacerbated by poor training of guards and the inability to separate people.

"The policy from department quite clearly is that Manus is not to be a comfortable place," he told ABC radio.

"Any suggestion by those of us who were speaking up for them (vulnerable detainees), we were just told no one leaves the island."

Mr Burke said the allegations were horrific.

He spoke in detail to Mr St George after the program aired on Tuesday night, about conditions in the detention centre and what could be done to fix the problems.

"I'll be in Manus in the next couple of days and I'll have a look for myself," he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

"I don't think anyone in the immigration department would have any doubt particularly after this next visit, of what my expectations are."

The minister said all the asylum seekers currently on Manus Island would be removed before any new groups were settled there under the government's new policy.

His office has been asked to clarify where those currently on the island will be sent.

LISTEN: Immigration Minister Tony Burke speaks with Fran Kelly from ABC Radio National, about allegations of rape and torture at the Manus Island refugee detention centre in Papua New Guinea .