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PNG, Aust govt have betrayed Manus people: Governor

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Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin says the Manus people have been betrayed by the Australian and PNG governments.
“The ministers involved in signing the agreement to bring the asylum seekers to Manus in 2013 didn’t give a thought about the Manus people,” he told The National.
“They saw us as something nothing. Just a dumping ground. They never did one time involve me in the negotiation although I was the governor at that time.
“The ministers involved in all these negotiations for economical and infrastructural packages for Manus were never done. Instead, they negotiated for K1 billlion worth of projects for Angau hospital renovation in Morobe and Ramu Highway sealing project in Madang. Nothing for Manus.
“But you see all the road infrastructure projects in Manus, that’s our own initiative. We had to fight tooth-and-nail to get these projects. It was not easy when dealing with Australians.”
Benjamin expressed concern for the legal implications in moving the refugees from Lombrum to East Lorengau
“Now the Lombrum camp is closed because the court had declared it illegal,” he said.
So what now? Moving the camp  to East Lorengau, does it make it legal?
“These are hard questions to answer.
“That’s why  Manus MP and Parliament Speaker  Job Pomat and I have not said anything officially because we could be held for contempt. We are not going to jail for nothing, for someone else’s bad decisions. But on request from the Australian government   to PNG Immigration for the non-refugees from Lombrum to move to  East  Lorengau, we said yes  on humatarian grounds.
“I mean you just can’t leave fellow human beings stranded in Lombrum without  power, water and no food.
“What type of human beings will do that to another human being? How can you just pack up and leave just like that without providing basic humanatarian needs?”
Benjamin, however, thanked the Australians for  the camps for providing employment to more than  1000 youths over four  years.
“Our mothers are involved  in various  small to medium enterprise activities,” he said.
“So now we want the camps to stay on a bit longer so we can negotiate for a good economical project. I have asked the national government for a cannery project because our youths already  have a good working culture.
“They dress nice, turn up to work on time and they need to continue working once the camps are closed.
“On that note, I thank the Immigration and Border Security Minister Petrus Thomas for not allowing 42 Fijian security guards to come and work at the camp because our local youths are very qualified to do that job. ”
Meanwhile, Benjamin expressed concern about  “negative reporting” by the Australian media.
“They’re portraying us as violent people when that is not true. Everyone knows that Manus is a peaceful place in PNG,” he said.
“I think they have an agenda to protray us as violent to discourage boats with people to go to Australia because these people will end up in Manus.”

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