The Prime Minister of PNG has asked our government to cancel the Paladin contract on Manus Island…but only so local businesses can capitalise on the refugees seeking asylum.
According to Papua New Guinea news publication Loop, the Prime Minister of PNG has officially asked the Australian government to cancel Paladin’s security contract on Manus Island, so local businesses can profit from the refugees stuck there.
“Our government has made representation to Australia to cancel this contract and open a tender process. The contract must be fair and transparent, PNG companies must have the right to compete for this contract in a fair and open manner…in this instance, I’ve proposed that Manus-based companies be given fairness to compete,” Marape said.
Marape also noted the decision of the Supreme Court, ordering the closure of the processing centre in 2017, pushing those left on the island to move to the newer site located in Lorengau.
“Asylum seekers have since been given the opportunity to move to alternate accommodations…since the Supreme Court decision, all refugees are no longer in detention and are moving freely around,” Marape said.
However, the reality of the issue is quite different. According to one of the refugees in question, they are subject to a curfew and are “free to move anytime on Manus, but we are restricted from leaving the camp between 6 pm until 6 am.”
Clearly, the re-tendering process does not mean any sort of closure for the stranded and hopeless on Manus, but does speak to the commercialisation of the situation writ large. Paladin may have been first in the door, but others will seemingly follow long before empathy locks it for good.
In the words of an individual stuck between two separate parties looking to benefit from his statelessness, “we know both the PNG government and Australian government contractors are making many millions of dollars from our suffering…therefore it is very apparent that both governments see us as nothing more than a commercial commodity.”