PNG at odds with Australia over Paladin contract renewal

PNG at odds with Australia over Paladin contract renewal

Papua New Guinea’s Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas has revealed the PNG Government is against the Morrison Government’s plan to renew Paladin Solution’s $20 million-a-month Manus ­Island security contract.

Mr Thomas told The Australian on Sunday that PNG wants a locally owned company to be awarded the contract instead.

“The PNG government position is to … terminate the Paladin contract by end of this month,” Mr Thomas said.

“The PNG [Government] wants a transparent tender process and most importantly will strongly recommend national content.

“PNG companies now have the ­capacity and expertise to do the job.”

According to The Australian, PNG’s Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha conveyed his government’s position to the Australian Department of Home Affairs.

Speaking on the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the decision was solely for his department to make and that the “likely arrangement is there will be a continuation.”

Mr Dutton refused to comment further.

The Department of Home Affairs has been approached for clarification.

The Auditor-General Grant Hehir is investigating whether the $423 million contract awarded to Paladin, which expires on 30 June, was appropriately managed by the Home Affairs Department.

Paladin won the contract in 2017 via a closed tender process and has received much scrutiny after it was revealed the company’s Australian arm was registered to a beach shack on Kangaroo Island.

It remained registered to the shack until early this year.

In February, Paladin’s Manus Island staff stopped working, accusing the company of underpaying and overworking them.

The Auditor-General’s report is expected to be tabled in January 2020.

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