Report on inquiry into Manus Island death to stay under wraps

Under wraps: The processing centre at Manus Island. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Under wraps: The processing centre at Manus Island. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The Abbott government is not planning to release the interim report of its inquiry into the death of one asylum seeker and injuries to more than 60 others on Manus Island in February.

It also intends to keep the final report under wraps, citing the practice of the former Labor government's inquiries into incidents at detention facilities on Christmas Island and Nauru.

The lack of information comes as the Immigration Department pressed ahead with transporting 83 asylum seekers to Curtin Immigration Detention Centre, many of whom were due to give evidence against the department on Friday.

Lawyers failed to get an injunction on Wednesday afternoon in the Federal Circuit Court. Some will be moved to Western Australia on Thursday, and others on Sunday.

Judge Rolf Driver said the directions hearing on Friday would only involve legal argument. ''At the present time there is no persuasive reason to interfere with the ordinary operation decisions of the Minister's department,'' Judge Driver said.

Michaela Byers, a solicitor representing many of the Villawood detainees, said the result was ''really disappointing''.

''It's impossible to represent 40 people interstate as a pro bono practitioner,'' she said.

Barrister Wayne Flynn argued the government was being ''hasty'' by transferring the detainees the day before their matter was to be heard.

The detainees are challenging the government for leaking their personal details published on the Immigration Department's website in February. Details of up to 10,000 people were leaked, including their names, date of birth, location and arrival date.

Meanwhile, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young accused the government of working ''feverishly to cover up'' what happened on the night of February's Manus Island violence, describing the refusal to release the report as ''unacceptable''.

''It seems the Australian government is working hard to make sure that the truth is kept hidden,'' she said.

She cited the rejection of PNG police requests for assistance from the Australian Federal Police, complaints security contractor G4S had not fully co-operated with the PNG police probe and the deportation of an Australian lawyer who had obtained statements from eye witnesses.

A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the department had received the progress report from an independent inquiry headed by Robert Cornall this week, saying the minister would be briefed on its content ''as appropriate''.

Mr Morrison is due in PNG this week to be updated on the police investigation.

Labor's immigration spokesman Richard Marles has called on the government to release the progress report without delay ''to make sure whatever safeguards are needed can be put in place to avoid such a tragic incident occurring again''.

Mr Morrison's spokeswoman said under Labor, the Nauru centre had burnt down, yet an inquiry report was not released before the election.

This story Report on inquiry into Manus Island death to stay under wraps first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.