Briefings for local businesses on accessing Manus Island contracts


BAI logo no textThe Australian Government has moved to allay fears that Papua New Guinea companies will lose out on valuable contracts as the Manus Island detention centre is developed by holding business briefings this week.

While Australian Government has reached an agreement with the O’Neill government to expand the asylum-seeker detention centre to cater for as many as 6,000 people, local businesses have complained that so far, non-PNG companies are the only beneficiaries of the new contracts.

According to Chey Scovell, Chief Executive Officer of the Manufacturers Council, local businesspeople were frustrated to learn that a Saudi Arabian company, Red Sea Housing, would provide accommodation. An Australian company, Decmil, has been given a AUD$137 million contract to build a new processing centre in the island’s capital, Lorengau.

Scovell said local companies could provide these services.

A deputy secretary of Australia’s Immigration Department, Neil Skill, is in the country this week to talk to local business leaders about how they can take advantage of contracts. Skill has been briefing business people on Manus Island, and in Lae and Port Moresby.

An Immigration Department statement from Canberra said Skill would ‘provide an overview of the type of work to be undertaken at the permanent centre at Lorengau and the type that could be expected if the Lombrum centre is expanded further’.

Chey Scovell told Business Advantage PNG he hoped the briefings would outline the means by which local business people could access contracts.

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How Australia’s election could affect Manus Island

Australians go to the polls on 7 September to elect a new parliament. The outcome is likely to affect the country’s immigration policy and by extension its arrangements in PNG.

If re-elected, the Labor Government’s current policies would continue:

  • Asylum seekers who arrive by boat will never be settled in Australia
  • They will be sent to Manus Island or elsewhere in PNG for assessment
  • Genuine refugees will be resettled in PNG
  • The agreement will be in place for at least the next 12 months
  • There will be no cap on the number of refugees to be settled in PNG
  • Manus Island detention centre to be expanded to house 3,000, up from its original capacity of 600
  • Labor will increase Australia’s refugee intake from 13,750 to 20,000 per year; at least 12,000 of those places to be quarantined for those refugees in overseas camps.

If elected, a Liberal–National Coalition Government would:

  • Direct the Australian Navy the turn boats back to Indonesia when it is safe to do so
  • Establish a military-led response to border protection called Operation Sovereign Borders
  • Mandatory detention for all boat arrivals
  • Offshore processing on Nauru and Manus Island
  • Boost capacity on Nauru to house 2,000 people, eventually up to 5,000
  • Impose behaviour protocols on asylum seekers on bridging visas
  • Prioritise claims of asylum seekers in refugee camps over claims of boat arrivals
  • Maintain Australia’s refugee intake at 13,750.