More Sri Lankan men sent to Nauru

The federal government has sent a second group of asylum seekers to Nauru but says it will take more time for its new offshore processing policies to start stemming the flow of boat arrivals from Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says another 36 Sri Lankan men arrived on the isolated Pacific island at 7.30am local time on Tuesday.

They will be housed in tents alongside 30 Sri Lankan men sent there last week.

The Nauruan government says the transfer occurred without incident and the men appear relaxed.

Mr Bowen says future transfers will include a broad cross-section of people, including families and groups with special needs such as children.

But it will take time for people smugglers and asylum seekers to get the message that the policy is up and running.

“That will take a little bit of time, it would take the transfers to be occurring on a regular basis,” the minister told reporters in Canberra.

The Salvation Army, which is helping care for asylum seekers sent to Nauru, said facilities should be improved before any women and children are sent there.

“We certainly would be keen to see more development happen with facilities prior to that happening,” Salvation Army spokesman Paul Moulds told the ABC.

“But at the end of the day, that’s not our decision, and I’m sure that the intention is that the facilities are developed far further before that happens.”

Mr Bowen says Australian Defence Force personnel have deployed to Papua New Guinea to start work on rebuilding asylum seeker processing facility on Manus Island.

Four C-130 aircraft left Australia for PNG on Tuesday, with 25 ADF personnel on board.

Earlier on Tuesday, opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison accused the government of being “half-hearted” about offshore processing because it had yet to send anyone to Nauru who had arrived by boat from Indonesia.

“The boats keep coming from Indonesia, yet no-one who has come from a boat from Indonesia has been sent to Nauru,” he told reporters in Canberra.

But Mr Bowen rejected this, saying who got transferred was an operational decision.

“Broad cross sections of people will be transferred in the coming period,” he repeated.

He said Mr Morrison and the opposition was “very keen to make this a political issue”.

“That says more about them than it does about me.”

Mr Bowen has previously said Nauru will be able to house 500 people by the end of this month.

Total capacity is 1500 and 600 for Manus Island.

An asylum seeker boat carrying 10 people was intercepted near the Cocos Islands on Monday and the passengers are being taken to Christmas Island.

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