Settlement for Manus detainees 'not an admission of liability', says Dutton

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton Source: AAP

The immigration minister is laying blame for a $70 million settlement to Manus Island detainees squarely at the feet of his political foes.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is not accepting any responsibility for the multimillion-dollar settlement to be paid to Manus Island detainees.

Lawyers for the detainees have reached a conditional settlement with the Australian government and the managers of the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.

The class action was settled for $70 million plus roughly $20 million in costs to law firm Slater and Gordon, which Mr Dutton derided in parliament as "ambulance chasers".

"Labor imposed this cost on Australians when it handed control of the nation's borders to criminal people-smuggling syndicates," Mr Dutton said on Wednesday.

Lead plaintiff issues statement on class action


An expected six-month legal battle would have cost tens of million of dollars in legal fees alone and settling the case was a prudent outcome for taxpayers.

"The Commonwealth strongly refutes and denies the claims made in these proceedings. Settlement is not an admission of liability in any regard," Mr Dutton said.

The class action was seeking damages on behalf of 1905 group members who, legal firm Slater and Gordon says, cover the majority of people detained on Manus Island since 2012.

'We’re being taken for fools': Pauline Hanson responds to settlement 

The detainees wanted compensation from the Australian government and the detention centre's operators for alleged physical and psychological injuries they argue they suffered as a result of the conditions in which they were held.

Greens immigration spokesman Nick McKim said the settlement was an admission of guilt by Mr Dutton that he was responsible for the illegal detention and deliberate harm of people seeking asylum in Australia.

"By accepting this settlement, Peter Dutton takes responsibility for the deaths, the serious injuries, the torture and the ongoing harm to Manus Island detainees," Senator McKim said.

The class action also sought damages for false imprisonment after the PNG Supreme Court ruled the detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island was unconstitutional.

The Australian government and the companies that have managed the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, G4S Australia and Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield Services), had denied the claims.

The settlement details in the Australian class action will be confidential and subject to court approval.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch