Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is looking like a man holding a bowl of steaming excrement he is trying to pass off as Weet-Bix and warm milk. The decision by Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court to rule that Australia’s detention centre on Manus Island is illegal has left him with the toxic legacy of a failed and inhumane policy of offshore detention put in place by his predecessors. Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison and even Kevin Rudd before that all thought the out-of-sight-out-of-mind solution of that small island at the north of our former colony of PNG might work as “the solution” to our refugee “problem”. However, it now turns out the people of PNG don’t want this problem dumped on them. Fair enough. No matter how much money we have thrown at them, the Supreme Court of PNG -- which we, as a colonial power, established in line with our own system -- has turned around and ruled the detention centre on Manus Island illegal and inhumane.

There is a heavy irony here. Manus has been used as a dumping ground for inconvenient human beings by the Australian government since the 1960s, when it detained two West Papuan leaders there as they tried, vainly, to get to New York to protest against the UN-approved takeover of their country by Indonesia. Manus was and is still used as a place of exile by successive Australian governments for inconvenient individuals. With this latest ruling by PNG's Supreme Court, Australia’s own tropical gulag has been given notice. The 850 people (mostly men) who are still detained there want to come to Australia. They don’t want to live in PNG, nor do they want to live in Cambodia. Successive Australian governments have tried all they could through the hired mercenaries they pay to induce the asylum seekers to go somewhere else, anywhere but Australia. People have died, through self-harm and from the brutality of guards and locals.