Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has admitted his initial reports of violence at Manus Island detention centre were based on patchy information.
Mr Morrison is under fire after admitting that most of the violence – including the death of 23-year-old Iranian man Reza Berati – likely happened inside the centre, not outside, as first claimed.
He defended his initial report saying it was later qualified by conflicting reports of what occurred at the centre.
“What happens in these situations … is that information can be patchy and is rarely perfect on those first occasions,” Mr Morrison told parliament during question time.
Mr Morrison maintained he’d been open and transparent by giving updates at five press conferences last week.
On Friday night and Saturday, he received further information that made it clear he should correct the record.
Mr Morrison said the inquiry will look how the facility was set up, the performance of service providers and security arrangements as well as the Abbott government conduct and his role as minister.
“The manager of opposition business (Tony Burke) once boast he could build a 10,000 man camp on Manus Island,” Mr Morrison told the chamber.
“I just shudder to think how something like that could have been run safely.”
Mr Morrison offered condolences to Mr Berati’s family on behalf of the parliament.
Blood on his hands
Earlier, a Labor senator accused Immigration Minister Scott Morrison of having blood on his hands after a violent riot at the Manus Island detention centre, despite Mr Morrison’s government colleague’s saying he is doing a tough and challenging job in a most honourable way.
The Greens and refugee advocates are demanding the minister’s head after he admitted that most of the violence — including the death of 23-year-old Iranian man Reza Berati — had likely happened inside the centre, not outside, as first claimed.
“He definitely does have blood on his hands,” Labor senator Sue Lines told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
It was inappropriate for Mr Morrison to jump the gun and give misleading statements about how the incident unfolded, she said.
“It shows how quickly the Abbott government wants to demonise asylum seekers.”
But Senator Lines said Labor had some soul searching to do over its support for offshore processing on Manus Island.
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne says Prime Minister Tony Abbott is condoning thuggery and standover tactics by saying he did not want a wimp in charge of border protection.
“Far from strong, they show moral cowardice,” she told reporters of Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison.
Senator Milne insists Mr Berati was murdered in the riot.
“How else can you describe someone’s head being stomped on and people being dragged from their beds who hadn’t been involved at all?” she said.