Lae Chamber of Commerce favours asylum-seeker deal


BAI logo no textThe Lae Chamber of Commerce (LCCI) says the Rudd–O’Neill asylum seeker deal ‘will be positive for business’, according to chamber president, Alan McLay.

Under the deal, asylum-seekers arriving in Australia will be transferred to a processing centre on Manus Island in Manus Province.

The agreement has drawn heavy criticism of the Rudd and O’Neill governments, although some business people, including those on Manus Island and the PNG Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have welcomed the opportunities the centre will provide.

The extensions and maintenance to the Manus Island refugee camp will give an opportunity to many Lae-based contractors, McLay wrote in the LCCI’s latest weekly newsletter.

Lae-based suppliers will be given an opportunity to sell their products for the short term and possibly the long term, and the Manus economy will be stimulated, giving the local people the ability to spend more on household goods and foodstuffs, much of which will be sourced from Lae, he said.

Story continues after advertisment...

Citizenship issue ‘sensitive’

McLay said the chamber didn’t want to get involved in the debate over whether those classified as refugees should be given PNG citizenship, acknowledging it as a ‘particularly sensitive’ issue.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill (l) with Australian PM, Kevin Rudd

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill (l) with Australian PM, Kevin Rudd

While already skilled refugees could fill a ‘vital skills gap’ in trades and professional areas, he noted that unskilled refugees ‘will be unfairly competing directly with PNG unskilled workers, who are already faced with the insufficient availability of jobs’.

McLay also welcomed the prospect of more aid money being spent on infrastructure, including a new US$325 million (K650 million) hospital in Lae and the agreement to upgrade the Ramu Highway.

‘The trucking of goods from Lae to Madang has been reduced to just about nil, due to the poor state of the Ramu Highway. If the road is reconstructed then it will again be economical and timely to truck goods between Lae and Madang,’ he said.

Leave a Reply