PNG: Media barred from asylum seekers processing centre
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
PORT MORESBY (PNG Post-Courier / Pacific Media Watch): Papua New Guinea's Post-Courier newspaper visited the Manus Processing Centre for asylum seekers over the weekend but could only take pictures from outside because of a ban on media coverage of the issue.
Australian Defence Force soldiers, G4S officials and local men did not want to speak to the media.
The PNG and Australian governments are now deliberating on the demands put to them by the Manus provincial government and its leaders regarding the processing center.
The Manus provincial government, leaders and landowner representatives want to be considered for joint venture partnerships with Australian companies to develop and run the processing center.
They want to be the preferred choices over other contractors in relation to the provision of services to the centre.
Both national governments are now seriously looking into the demands and concerns raised.
But while this is happening, the Australian Immigration Department has already awarded a $30 million contract to G4S to run and provide security services for the Manus Island processing centre, another contract to Eurest to cater for asylum seekers who will be held, and others.
Tents nearly completed
ADF soldiers have almost completed their work on the tents that will accommodate asylum seekers.
The rundown regional processing centre on Manus Island is being renovated by the ADF and tent facilities are being put up to house and process asylum seekers who are due this month.
A government delegation, including National Planning and Monitoring Minister Charles Abel, was scheduled to visit the site on Friday or Saturday, but because of flight delays the visit did not eventuate.
But some local Manus leaders told the Post-Courier that they wanted the Australians to really understand them and their need to work closely with them as hosts.
Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin said they had told the PNG government what they wanted and expected the government to help them.
“We want to ensure that we are not being used only and are left out in developmental packages that can be of assistance to us. Manus is a tiny province with very little resources," Benjamin said.
"So we are just a bit concerned. We talked about it with the Foreign Affairs Minister, his staff and senior management and we have left it to them. They and the Australians will let us know later what they think.”
Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato said in his response last week that all misunderstandings had been clarified. Whatever remained would be dealt with in the spirit of the understanding they had reached to move the project forward.