PNG PM wants Australia to stop security firm's Manus contract

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-25 16:21:55|Editor: xuxin
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SYDNEY, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape told Parliament on Tuesday that he wants to sever ties with Australian security contractor in charge of operations at the Manus Island Province Regional Processing Center, a facility which the Australian government uses as offshore immigration detention.

With Paladin Security Group's lucrative 423-million-Australian dollar (294 million U.S. dollars) deal awarded to it by Australia's Department of Home Affairs set to come to an end at the end of this month, PNG's newly appointed leader made it clear he does not want the contract renewed.

"We don't intend for foreign contractors to operate here in business like security -- it is a business that local companies can be engaged in and I ask the Australian Government to stop this contract forthwith," Marape said.

As well as supplying guards and security personnel for the immigration center, the group is also heavily involved in logistical operations related to the facility.

But recently, the arrangement has been plagued by scandal and accusations of a lack of transparency.

As a result, the speedy tender process which awarded Paladin the contract is currently being investigated by the auditor-general of Australia and one of the world's big four accounting firms EY.

"The circumstances under which Paladin got the contract, raised big questions about how the Department of Home Affairs is able to and does it have the capacity to, evaluate and select, and create a market for the kind of services it wants on Manus," Aus-PNG Network research associate at the Lowy Institute, Shane Mcleod told Xinhua.

In total, Paladin receives approximately 1,600 Australian dollars (1,113 U.S. dollars) per day for each detainee housed at the facility.

But according to the Australian Financial Review, "PNG is full of companies able to provide high-quality services in remote locations, given its long history as an oil and gas jurisdiction."

They estimated the daily price could be low at 108 Australian dollars (75 U.S. dollars) per person each day if a local company was selected.

"From the PNG side, there has always been this wish that it would be a localized contract and perhaps what Marape wants is to see that accelerated," Mcleod said.

"Whether there is the capacity and whether there is a contractor inside PNG that could take on the scope of this work. Now, that's something I guess the two governments will have to work on."