Cashing in on refugees at Manus Island

As the crossbench celebrated passing a vote to medivac refugees from offshore detention camps at doctors discretion:

Scott Morrison did not seem to be unduly perturbed:

I am sure he likes having refugees mired at Manus and Nauru, so he can scare Australian voters about the danger of letting Bill Shorten anywhere near The Lodge and the treasury benches. There are some other people who also cash in big time – for example Paladin Group, one of the biggest government contractors in Australia, having won tenders worth $423 million for its 22 months work on Manus.

The AFR have run a feature article on what is happening.

Paladin is being paid on average $20.8 million a month by our government to provide security at three sites – East Lorengau, West Lorengau and Hillside Haus, plus manage the East Lorengau Transit Centre. For 422 asylum seekers:

    That means on a daily basis it now costs the Australian government over $1600 to house each refugee on Manus, not including food and welfare services, more than double the price of a suite at the Shangri-La hotel in Sydney.

The AFR has found that costs to Paladin are about $3 million per month, leaving profit of $17 million profit.

    On the ground at Manus, where Paladin is responsible for security, IT, local transport and some site management at the East Lorengau Transit Centre, Hillside Haus and West Lorengau Haus, refugees and asylum seekers complain of broken amenities and non-existent services.

Costs are minimal because the company uses mostly local staff paid $2 per hour. It is thought to have about a dozen expatriates on board who may be earning $150,000, but it is not clear what they do.

    As a group of companies, Paladin is little more than a series of post boxes at registered offices in Singapore and Hong Kong and that beach shack down a dirt road on Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

    Its Singapore entity Paladin Holdings Pte Ltd, which is the ultimate beneficiary of all the government contracts, has registered capital of just $US50,000.

How did all this happen?

You might recall that infrastructure service company Transfield attracted a lot of criticism when it undertook the Manus Island contract some years ago. At the time I thought, someone has to do it, and it is probably better that an established company with a brand and reputation to protect, and some competence, provided the services. However, things rapidly went pear-shaped, activists called for boycotts and Transfield’s position became basically untenable.

As it happened, Transfield was then taken over by the Spanish company Ferrovial, who made it clear it would not manage these type of facilities in the future. Because of brand damage, the Transfield name was dumped in favour of Broadspectrum.

A further AFR article reveals that the Home Affairs Department chose not to run an open tender for the security work at Manus Island post Transfield, using instead a “limited tender”.

    A limited tender is often used for advanced technology where there is only one supplier, for amounts under $80,000 or when the time frame is very short.

In this case the only excuse reason could have been “urgency”, yet it was known in April 2016 that Transfield would be terminating over a year before the contract was due to end.

It has been revealed now that Paladin was approached by the Department only two months before the Broadspectrum contract was due to finish in October 2017. Paladin founder Craig Thrupp hired David Mayo, a Canberra consultant and expert in government contract preparation, to help Paladin prepare its proposal in July, just two months before it submitted its bid. Mayo left his job at multinational arms contractor Northrop Grumman and founded the company Dreamtime Indigenous Services. Then in November 2017 a 40 per cent stake in Dreamtime was transferred to Paladin Singapore.

To get the show off the ground the government made a $10 million up front payment to Paladin.

No-one has yet explained why Craig Coleman, a former Australian army soldier from Ipswich in Queensland, who has left a string of bad debts and failed contracts across Asia, was considered at all eligible to provide contract services to the Australian government.

The PNG government had been critical that the work related to Manus Island had been undertaken by international companies. Seems Paladin was put forward at their initiative. Links with prime minister Peter O’Neill have been alleged, but denied.

We only know anything about the whole smelly affair at all because Craig Coleman, former Australian Army major and former CEO of Paladin’s PNG business, is suing for breach of contract, and is being counter-sued in turn. We know what we know because of what has been revealed in court. Otherwise Peter Dutton would make sure we know nothing.

Dutton argues that releasing details would harm our relationship with PNG.

Private security services is big business in PNG:

    The growth of the private security industry has made it arguably the third-largest employer in the relatively impoverished country, and the number of private security guards is estimated to be more than the combined number of police, defence and correctional services personnel.

    “There has been a proliferation of these private security companies and massive investment from the political elite and this is all happening in a weak regulatory environment,” says Sinclair Dinnen, senior research fellow with the ANU’s Department of Pacific Affairs.

This sounds like a job for the new national integrity commission. Meanwhile:

    How Paladin came to be awarded the contracts with the Home Affairs Department is set to be the subject of intense Labor and crossbench scrutiny at Senate Estimates hearings next week.

However, obfuscation rather than transparency is likely to be the modus operandi, Peter Dutton’s normal style.

43 thoughts on “Cashing in on refugees at Manus Island”

  1. What an amazing story, Brian.

    It’s an excellent illustration of how the Capitalist modus operandi can bring progress, harmony and healthy returns to an entrepreneurial group.

    And what a blessing, to be operating in a place where $2 per hour is the going rate! I haven’t checked the figures, but I reckon those wonderful entrepreneurs could make a decent quid even if the wages shot up to a near-disastrous $3 per hour….

    They might just have to cut a few corners on maintenance and repairs; maybe review their Mission Statement to align it with Davos Best Practice; and keep beavering away there, like the honest toilers they all must be.


    Venezuela, watch and learn!!

  2. The latest (Thursday) is that Peter Dutton reckons he had “no sight” of the tender process and it was a matter for department officials.

    That is simply unbelievable. If such a tender did not go to Cabinet it should have done so, especially if it was a “limited tender”.

    Angus Grigg told Phillip Adams last night that the “limited tender” was used when only one company could provide the service, as in where some high tech company is the only one with the required technology. He said that he and his co-workers on the story had spoken to other companies which had been eagerly awaiting the chance to bid.

    Grigg also the Kangaroo Island address was apparently chosen because it had no mail service, so documents could not be served at that address. The nearest post office is 16 km away.

  3. Brian: The government thinks there are lots of votes in treating refugees as harshly as possible.
    $1600 per day per refugee is probably low cost vote buying for the LNP, particularly given that the taxpayer is paying for this vote buying..

  4. The taxpayer pays for all vote buying, John.

    If corporations or Parties bought votes, that would be improper, illegal and corrupt.


  5. Ambi:

    If corporations or Parties bought votes, that would be improper, illegal and corrupt.

    Jumpy and I might agree for once that misusing taxpayers money to buy votes should be illegal too?
    OK: Maybe using taxpayer money to buy votes by doing things that the voters (Not just taxpayers) want governments to do is OK.

  6. Yes John

    I agree with that last suggestion. In our district, we need a new regional hospital.

    A campaigning group tried to persuade both major Parties to promise it would be built. Unfortunately it didn’t attract bipartisan support, and the Andrews Govt instead tried to buy votes in the Latrobe Valley promised hospital work in the Latrobe Valley, nearby, instead.

    Then Mr Andrews Party failed to win that seat anyway! So instead of calling it ‘buying votes’, maybe we should say “putting in a bid for votes”.

    I hope they get their hospital work. Mr Andrews is a genuine Infrastructure Premier.

  7. I am sure he ( ScoMO ) likes having refugees mired at Manus and Nauru, so he can scare Australian voters about the danger of letting Bill Shorten anywhere near The Lodge and the treasury benches.
    I think that’s a shitty thing to say about anyone. He’s done more to reduce the amount if illegal migrants in detention than anyone I can think of.
    If I were to say something equally as shitty it’d be, “Kevin Rudd loved having as many illegal migrants in detention as possible, the increased numbers prove that, to get more immigrant votes casuse most of the population are migrants or their parents were. It all tactical and he knows the media will defend ALP “

    But I wouldn’t say that because it’s a shitty thing to say.

  8. Is that
    smart enough to work I out
    smart enough to work me out

    Or was it bloedy Spellcock again?

  9. I refer to it as Smellcock.
    But hey, roosters noses and wizard roosters are just as irrelevant to the topic as each other.

    ( derailment alert , please stick to the F***ing subject )

  10. There is nothing in the Refugee Convention which gives anyone the right to enter Australia without authorisation, or which obliges Australia to admit any person to its territory, or which prevents Australia detaining people who have entered Australia without authorisation. if I’m wrong, kindly show me which sections of the Convention do these things. As for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is not a treaty or a convention, it is merely a declaration – it has no legal force. Do you think Stalin would have signed it if had?

  11. For starters, I think the asylum seeker/refugee issue is a ‘wicked’ problem, because there is no good answer when they start appearing in numbers.

    The Malaysian Solution was probably the best. Set up an orderly queue nearer to where they come from. If they jump the queue then send them back to the back end of the queue.

    Jumpy, Rudd’s solution was essentially a desperate brain fart. Labor say refugees would not have been on Manus and Nauru so long, but they had no way of getting them off in a hurry, apart from 150 pa to NZ. The rest of the world saw it as our problem.

    ScoMo militarised the whole thing and made it secret. Boats are being turned around, but we don’t know how many, and we don’t know how many people drown as a result.

    ScoMo’s willingness to score political points on the issue at the expense the asylum seekers is breathtaking. Do you understand that people have actually died through medical evacuation being refused?

    I think all the remaining people on Nauru and Manus should be brought to Australia, and I mean the mainland. If the navy is any good, they will still turn boats around.

  12. Jumpy, do you actually proof-read your stuff before you post it?

    Just read it through once. We know that not everyone can spell perfectly. I have a few habitual errors myself.

    Even though we are now doubt smart enough to work it out, the glitches at the current rate do inhibit the neural processes which would be better concentrated on your meaning.

  13. Jumpy, I have been reflecting on whether I went too far in saying ScoMo “likes having refugees mired at Manus and Nauru”.

    Katharine Murphy’s excellent piece says:

      A liberal democracy should not subject people who have committed no crime to a regime of indefinite detention. That regime has consequences. It is inflicting terrible harm on people, deliberately, as a matter of policy, to dissuade others from embarking on the same journey to Australia.

    She talks of self-harm and dying.

    Morrison’s basic argument is that he is cleaning up Labor’s mess. However, if he had an ounce of empathy or compassion he would end the detention and trust the navy to turn around any boats that might be encouraged to try their luck.

    He is defending the right of civil servants and politicians to over-rule medical doctors on matters of health. The asylum seekers are under our care. Convicted murderers in jail get medical services. There is no wriggle room here, and for mine there is still too much wriggle room in the legislation passed.

    It’s instructive to look at the case of Hamid Khazaei, who died from sepsis to the leg. Coroner Terry Ryan found Khazaei’s death:

      followed a series of clinical errors and delays, including a lack of antibiotics on Manus Island to treat tropical infections and a failure by Australian immigration officials to urgently grant a doctor’s request for Mr Khazaei’s transfer to Australia.

      He found the Australian Government had not met its responsibility to detainees such as Mr Khazaei to provide health care that was “broadly comparable” to that available in Australia.

      The coroner recommended a systemic overhaul of healthcare responses in offshore detention, including a new policy to allow doctors on the ground, rather than Canberra officials, to approve medical transfers. (Emphasis added)

    Back in June 2018 The Guardian identified 12 refugees and asylum seekers who have died while in Australian immigration detention on Manus Island and Nauru.

    Politically I think Morrison does rather like to have asylum seekers in offshore detention at present whose situation he can use against Bill Shorten. To him it is a political lifeline.

    It’s about instrumental ethics and a lack of recognition and regard for the humanity of others. Excuse me if I have no respect for him.

  14. You evaluation is spot on, Brian. Thanks for framing that so well.

    I didn’t need that though to reject Scott Morrison as a person suitable for public service. I am still haunted by Abbotts hyena pack shouting abuse across the table in parliament all those years ago. Conduct unbecoming a human being.

  15. Brian, I’m another who agrees with your assessment.
    I detect nothing of the Nazarene in Morrison’s behaviour.

  16. I detect the PR guy in Mr Morrison’s behaviour. All slogan and BS. Striking a pose.
    Did he ever have psid employment in a PR role?

    “On water matters” indeed.
    B’osun Morrison, your time’s almost up. Enjoy those epaulettes while you may.

    That Nazarene you speak of, zoot. Was he the bloke who said “turn the other cheek”, or was his hobby turning the other boat?

    From long past Sunday School days, do I correctly recall a Protestant hymn:

    Scott will make you fishers of men,
    Fishers of men
    Fishers of men
    Scott will make you ……

    And what a bitter harvest it has been, Bo’sun.

  17. Nine’s SMH says an Ipsos poll now has the Labor lead at 51-49, where in December last it was 56-44.

    That might be a change larger than the polls’ margins of error.

  18. Brian
    In the event that Shorten becomes PM ( inevitable I think ) and if hundreds of people drown attempting to come illegally to Australia ( like under Rudd/Gillard/Rudd ) will that change your opinion that Morrison does have some empathy ?

    Will blood* be on Shortens hands in that plays out.

    ( * I realise there’s no blood in drowning but the shark feeding frenzies adds that )

  19. When I was a public servant there was something called “duty of care” which appears to have vanished from our brave new world.
    It was an obligation to the real people we were dealing with, not the hypothetical people who may have been saved by our failure to abide by it.

  20. Verdict

    The figure of 1200 deaths of asylum seekers at sea under Labor regularly cited by politicians and the media is broadly correct. The best available data appears to put those estimates at closer to 1100.

    What did you think Morrison’s death count is, 12 or so.

    There are certain types of empathy and compassion that manifest in mass deaths.
    That’s worth thinking about.

  21. Zoot, the public you were hired by were Australians.
    Please stop saying irrelevant crap, it’d help the discussion stay on track.

  22. A modest proposal.
    It would appear that even when the prospect is drowning or death in a gulag, people still attempt to reach Australia by boat.
    Obviously not enough of them are dying to have the required deterrent effect.
    Usually (but not always) they are turned back by our Navy. It’s time the Minister for Border Protection was on board so he can personally blow a few migrant vessels out of the water.
    That will demonstrate that we mean business.

  23. Signal to HMTV Howard
    (Her Majesty’s Turnback Vessel Howard)

    Figure transmitted 18:12 hours incorrect.
    Should read 54-46.
    Result still satisfactory.
    Plain sailing towards Second Tampa Victory.

    All red-blooded Aussie lads now regretting their thousands of individual decisions not to respond to exciting Navy recruiting ads on TV. Could have been part of it.

    Over and out,
    Sovereign Borders Messaging
    Patriotic Tinnie Fleet

  24. Here’s the LDP immigration policy, see if that seems ok.
    There’s no perfect solution so I think there’s a bit of food for thought.

    ( in the event you want to feed your thought that is, lots don’t )

  25. Jumpy: Gillard’s Malaysian solution would have stopped some of those death’s by drowning. However, the LNP and the Greens voted it down. Some nasty people suggested that the LNP voted it down because they didn’t want Labor to solve a problem that the was such a sure fire vote winner for the LNP.
    If your memory is still sharp you might remember that it was Rudd as Labor party leader who set up the Manus and Nauru solutions, not Scott Morrison. All Scott and Dutton have done is administer the system set up by Labor with a level of bastardry that may have contributed to a number of lives lost after the LNP came to power.

  26. John D is correct. The number of people who drowned under Labor after Abbott, ScoMo et al and the Greens voted down the Malaysia Solution is 600.

    I’ll judge Labor’s policy in the end by what happens if they gain power. There are diverse views within Labor, and I think Shorten has the others working on the issue have brokered a basically acceptable compromise.

    Labor says it will turn back boats when it is safe to do so. Labor is also going to look for more regional solutions and provide additional support to the UNHCR.

    Meanwhile there is an article It’s high time we stopped playing politics with migration laws by Professor Mary Crock, professor of public law at Sydney Law School and an accredited specialist in immigration law, and Dr Daniel Ghezelbash, a senior lecturer at Macquarie Law School and special counsel at the National Justice Project. They say:

      the Government is highly selective in the information that it releases on asylum seekers.

      For example, while we are told that they have “stopped the boats”, little has been said about the record 27,000 on-shore asylum applications in 2018. Most claimants have come by plane from Malaysia and China.

    Only about 16% of these have been found to have genuine claims.

    Earlier this month I heard a Big Ideas program on
    Refugee diplomacy
    . It was particularly interesting to hear what Anne Richard Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration in the Obama Administration had to say. She brokered the Obama deal and visited Manus and Nauru in the process.

    Some of those going to the USA have not found life particularly easy, starting at the bottom of the pile.

  27. I didn’t understand what moving the refugees was about. It is purely so that Morrison can one up the parliament in a defeat. It is an egotistical act . Where is the compassion and empathy there? There isn’t any! Morrison is devoid of empathy, and you know what that makes him don’t you?

    Add up the number of actions Morrison has taken to hang on to power.

  28. Yes, BilB, Michael Pacoe is saying the Govt is looking to move the refugees to Christmas Island so that the medevac legislation does.t apply to them. This is even more astonishing. And there is a suggestion that because he has to spend money on this he will have less to help flooded graziers in N Qld.

    On his compassion, Mrs ScoMo is quoted as saying that he was so moved by feeling for the refugees that he got down on his knees and wept.

    At best this guy is a mess and shouldn’t be PM.

    Ambi, I’m afraid your earlier take on Ipsos poll was correct – narrowed to 51-49 to Labor, ostensibly by taking 4 points off Labor and giving 2 to LNP and 2 to Other. Greens remain the same at an improbable 13.

    I suspect this poll is unreliable. It seems to jump around a lot. I’ll be interested in whether the polling experts have any comment.

  29. For those who saw Insiders yesterday the most important bit was where they went to Bondi Beach and asked people at random who the PM was.

    Most did not have a clue and struggled to remember a name after John Howard.

  30. Brian: Have you got the source of claims that 600 refugees drowned after the Malaysian solution was blocked?
    Bilb: Dumb old me thought the Xmas Is play was about how much taxpayer funds would have to be spent to deal with the flood of refugees that would be claimed as all Bill’s fault.

  31. John

    If your memory is still sharp you might remember that it was Rudd as Labor party leader who set up the Manus and Nauru solutions, not Scott Morrison.

    My memory is not sharp, but sharp enough to remember Manus and Nauru detention centres were set up in 2001.

  32. Jumpy: This link said Labor was gobsmacked by Abbot’s U turn on the Malaysian solution. The article also says that

    Conroy said on Sunday the current scandals inside the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres would have been avoided if the Gillard government’s proposal to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in exchange for 4000 processed refugees had been allowed to go through parliament when Abbott was the opposition leader.
    “This would have avoided all of these problems,” Conroy told Sky News on Sunday. “There were 600-odd deaths [at sea] after the ‘Malaysia solution’ was rejected and all of the problems that have now emerged at Nauru and Manus would not have happened.”

  33. John

    Jumpy: You are right, Labor only reopened the centers.

    I believe there were only 4 individual unlawful maritime arrivals in detention when Howard finishes up.
    None of them children.

  34. As for Stephen Conroy, that’s currently employed by the gambling industry under some horseshit title, I never believed a thing he ever said without proof. And rarely did that proof exist.

  35. John, I read the 600 number again recently, but you may remember in the post ScoMo closed parliament and scarpers I linked to an article by Philip Coorey Scott Morrison must think we all have short memories. Scott Morrison was shadow minister for immigration when Abbott put the kybosh on the Malaysian solution:

      When Gillard realised she was a number short, the bill was pulled. Had it been put to a vote, her government would have been the first to lose a vote on legislation on the floor of the House of Representatives since that of Stanley Bruce in 1929. That loss forced Bruce to an election which he lost.

      After the Malaysia plan foundered due to the actions of Morrison and Abbott, the flow of boats increased significantly, so did the deaths at sea. Another 600 people died. (Emphasis added.)

    Coorey also mentions the number in a 2016 article Scott Morrison hangs Tony Abbott out to dry over over Malaysia Plan. He’s a competent journalist, so unless proven otherwise, I’d run with that.

    Today on the ABC in a religion program it was said that since we’ve turned around the boats more Afghani refugees head west and some drown in the Mediterranean. The same would be true of other Middle East countries.

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