Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Papua New Guinea demands end to Australia refugee contract

Australia must end or completely rework a controversial multi-million dollar contract to manage refugees stuck in tropical island camps, Papua New Guinea’s prime minister demanded on Tuesday.

“I will ask the Australian government to stop this contract forthwith,” James Marape told parliament, saying the arrangement should be “reviewed to the fullest, or we ask for this contract to be terminated”.

Marape said the Paladin Group’s contract to manage facilities on Manus Island holding around 500 refugees and asylum seekers turned away by Australia must include local companies.

The contract, worth over Aus$400-million ($280-million) over the last two years, has been the subject of deep controversy.

From 2012 to 2017 Australia ran detention facilities on Manus under a hardline policy of turning back anyone trying to arrive in the country by sea — including refugees fleeing wars and unrest as far afield as Sudan and Iranian Kurdistan.

But after the PNG Supreme Court ruled the arrangement unconstitutional, Australia handed the camps over to local authorities, with daily management of security and other operations given to Paladin, a little-known private company, under a contract issued without any competitive tender.

The 500 men still on Manus have been in the island camps for at least five years.

In recent weeks the camps have seen a rash of suicide attempts as refugees and asylum seekers try to draw international attention to their plight.

The Paladin contract — which reportedly does not include food or medical care — has been backed by Australian home affairs minister Peter Dutton — who has advocated for an extension.

READ MORE: Aussie Minister Dutton the next prime minister, or the great divider?

Marape seemed to shoot down that possibility, at least without significant revisions.

“We don’t intend for foreign contractors to operate here in business like security. These are businesses that local companies can participate in, ” he told a regular session of question time.

Marape called on his foreign affairs and immigration ministers to convey his message to Canberra “at the earliest”.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Agency
External source

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Johannesburg council member Jolidee Matongo touted as front-runner to take...

The ANC will likely announce a candidate to take over as the city’s mayor next week after consultation with provincial and national leaders

Covid-19 jab: a ticket of responsibility, not a ticket to...

Being fully vaccinated ‘makes you a little bit more comfortable in your skin’, says 61-year-old Elize Parker

More top stories

Johannesburg council member Jolidee Matongo touted as front-runner to take...

The ANC will likely announce a candidate to take over as the city’s mayor next week after consultation with provincial and national leaders

Clashes in Tunisia after president ousts PM amid Covid protests

Street clashes erupted Monday outside Tunisia's army-barricaded parliament, a day after President Kais Saied ousted the prime minister and suspended the legislature, plunging the young democracy into a constitutional crisis

Five things to watch in the Zambian elections

Zambia will hold presidential elections in three weeks’ time amidst an ongoing economic crisis and rising political tensions. These are the five most important things to look out for in the elections

Covid-19 jab: a ticket of responsibility, not a ticket to...

Being fully vaccinated ‘makes you a little bit more comfortable in your skin’, says 61-year-old Elize Parker
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×