Labor MP O'Connor confirms kids will stay on Manus Island

CHILDREN will remain in detention at the Manus Island regional processing centre, Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor said on Tuesday.

Mr O'Connor was speaking after an ABC Four Corners program on Monday night revealed concerns over the conditions on the island for children being detained.

He told ABC on Tuesday he did not accept the premise of complaints about the conditions by a former employee at the centre.

While he conceded some of the living conditions on the island were inadequate when the centre was first set up, he said facilities had since been improved.

Mr O'Connor told reporters in Canberra he had no intention of taking children or families out of the detention centre, as it provided a deterrent effect against future asylum seekers.

He said the government would not be turning its back on the advice of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers that the detention centre be set up.

But the conditions on the island sparked criticism from Labor left faction leader Senator Doug Cameron, who labelled the centre a mistake, on Sky News.

Senator Cameron said the detention centre was a "penal provision against people seeking asylum" and should not have been set up.

His position was backed by opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison, who said he did not support children being kept on the island.

Mr Morrison said while the Coalition supported single men being kept at the facility, the Opposition would prefer families seeking asylum be kept at the Nauru centre.

The infrastructure and upgrade works to complete the Manus Island detention centre will be the subject of a parliamentary inquiry hearing in Melbourne tomorrow.