The Abbott government plans to make no changes to security arrangements on Manus Island depsite the violent clash between local security forces that nearly prompted an evacuation last week.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday that nothing he had seen suggested a need to step up security. He was speaking after PNG police clashed on Friday morning with PNG defence personnel just outside the detention centre, with some of the brawlers carrying rocks and sticks.
''We have no plans to make any changes based on the reports that I currently have,'' Mr Morrison said. ''How this incident occurred . . . is something that I’m sure will be reviewed by the PNG authorities. That’s not a matter for the Australian government.''
Centre staff were rushed to a secure area of the compound in case an evacuation was needed to the HMAS Choules, which is stationed off Manus Island. Mr Morrison said nobody was put at risk and the procedures for an evacuation were in place if it had proved necessary.
A boat carrying about 40 mostly African asylum-seekers arrived at Christmas Island on Monday morning, according to island councillor Gordon Thomson. It followed a boat that arrived on Sunday, carrying about 130 people.
Mr Morrison also brushed aside Labor attacks over his directive to immigration staff to refer to asylum-seekers who arrive by boat as ''illegal''.
He said he was simply calling ''a spade a spade'' and would not ''make any apologies for not using politically correct language to describe something that I am trying to stop''.
Victoria Martin, a refugee advocate who has been in contact with people on the island, said there was simmering tension between local police and military personnel, with complex roots also involving land disputes.
The tensions had been exacerbated by the establishment of the detention centre because some landowners were being paid compensation while others were not.
''It is inevitable that it will flare up again. It is inevitable there will be more violence. And we’ve put asylum-seekers in the middle of it,'' said Ms Martin from the Refugee Rights Action Network.
''Putting something like a detention centre in the middle of the island actually makes the security situation worse. We’ve added an extra factor in that there is cash (for land) for some people and not others.''
Some asylum-seekers have complained via social media that security staff effectively abandoned them when the confrontation flared. The firm that provides security at the detention centre, G4S, strongly rejected the claims.
''While precautionary measures were taken in response to an incident that occurred outside the centre, there was no evacuation of the Manus Island Centre and all G4S on duty personnel remained at the centre,'' the company said in a statement.
''Staff and transferees were safe at all times and no injuries were sustained. Further, the good order of the regional processing centre was maintained. All transferees remained under the care of G4S security staff at all times during Friday’s incident.''