PM puts Aust on notice

The Australian government has been put on notice regarding the engagement of the foreign security firm that is managing the Manus processing centre.

In today’s Parliament sitting, Northern Governor Gary Juffa said the company, which was awarded a $423 million contract “under very strange circumstances”, and without the PNG Government’s input, is about to have its contract renewed.

“I’d like to know, what is the PNG Government’s position in relation to this particular matter? Are we just going to sit by and let foreign governments come and dictate what they and their companies will do in this country?

“How are we going to handle this, now that we have come up with the phrase of taking back PNG, how are we going to manage this particular situation?”

In response, Prime Minister James Marape said: “We don’t intend for foreign contractors to operate here in businesses like security. It’s a business that local companies can engage in. And I ask the Australian government to stop this contract forthwith.

“I ask the Immigration Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister to convey this at the earliest to Canberra that we will not tolerate foreign companies engaged in businesses like security that national companies can be engaged in. And this arrangement to be reviewed in its fullest and that wherever this contract is heading to, that it be terminated as far as the PNG Government is concerned.”

Paladin, labeled ‘a previously unknown firm’ by international media, was shoved into the spotlight after an Australian senates estimates hearing queried the processes involved in awarding it $423m in contracts.

The hearing was told that the contract was awarded under a "special measure" provision as there was insufficient time for an open tender, considering the closure of the Lombrum detention centre in October 2017.

(From left: Northern Governor Gary Juffa and Prime Minister James Marape in Parliament today. Parliament has been adjourned to 10am tomorrow)

Carmella Gware