Australia To Honor Agreement For Manus Asylum Facility

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Joint assessment team to meet with community, discuss needs

By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 18, 2012) – The Australian Government will honor the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with the PNG Government, and both governments are working closely to progress the establishment of a Regional Processing Centre on Manus Island.

Last night, the Australian Government responded positively to the issues and reports detailed by the Manus Provincial Government and its leaders on the asylum processing centre, contracts, packages and issues surrounding it.

In a statement from the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby last night, the Australian Government said that with regard to the package of assistance to be provided to Manus Island by Australia in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding, the two governments have agreed to send a joint assessment mission to Manus in the near future to meet with the Provincial and Local-Level Governments and to better understand the needs of the community.

The development programs can commence as soon as practicable following that visit. They said that with the agreement of the PNG Government, priority has been given to the construction of a temporary facility.

Work on this temporary facility is nearing completion, and it is planned that the first transfer of asylum seekers to Manus will take place later in October.

The PNG Government was consulted before the appointment of these service providers.

The service providers were appointed based on their demonstrated expertise, experience and capacity to provide services within a short time frame.

Service providers have been appointed to support client transfers to the Manus RPC. These services are welfare (the Salvation Army), health services (International Health and Medical Services) and operational support services (G4S).

On 11 October, the Australian Government convened a workshop in Brisbane with the service providers and official representatives from PNG, included from the Manus Provincial Government. The workshop was instrumental in working through a number of issues relating to the establishment of a Regional Processing Centre on Manus Island.

The Australian Government supports the Manus Provincial Government’s aim to maximize the opportunity for local participation in employment and subcontracting activity. All service providers have been briefed on the preference to engage local contractors where capability exists within Manus Province.

Service providers have also been advised that efforts to procure supplies and equipment for the Regional Processing Centre should be focused on Manus Province first, followed by PNG more widely. International procurement should only take place when appropriate supplies cannot be obtained effectively within PNG.

Due to the imperative to have the site ready for operation, much of the early procurement of equipment has been undertaken in Australia or Port Moresby. This is not necessarily indicative of long term procurement arrangements. There is a definite preference for purchasing locally.

In order to avoid adverse impacts on the supply of goods locally in the Manus Province, many supplies for the Regional Processing Centre will initially be sourced from PNG more broadly and Australia. The Australian Government expects that capacity and supply issues can be overcome in the medium term.

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