Manus is missing out

Business, Normal

The National, Thursday November 7th, 2013

 HOSPITALITY businesses in Manus will miss out on spin-off benefits from the asylum processing centre deal, businessman Sam Tasion said.

He was commenting on a floating hotel facility used by the Australian government for its 635 workers engaged at the processing centre.

He described such a facility, boasting hotel amenities including kitchen, dining, laundry and recreational facilities as dirty business with no concern for small Papua New Guinean business people.

Tasion, a Manus businessman who owns and operates a 75-room hotel resort on the island, said the asylum deal signed between the PNG and Australian governments had no real considerations for the local people.

“Both governments must tell the people of Manus and PNG why they decided to engage Bibby Progress, owned by United Kingdom company Bibby Maritime, to provide the floating hotel,” he said.

“They cannot use security, health and/or sanitation and accommodation as excuses.”

According to the AusTenders website, the Australian immigration department had hired it as a bareboat charter to supply temporary accommodation for staff for between K3,000 and K1,200 a night from Oct 31 to May 31.

“I am intrigued by the accommodation arrangement with a UK company that has no ties with us, and to see them benefit at the expense of our people on Manus is very demeaning to how Australia is doing business.”

He called on Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin to explain to the people of Manus why such business arrangements were entertained without consultation with the Manus provincial government.

“If there was, why was priority given to foreign-owned companies.

“We have many guest houses, lodges and hotels that can provide accommodation for 635 staff working at the asylum processing centre. 

“While there are requirements to meet Australian standards, it is also fitting that local participation be considered and given priority.” 

Tasion said one of our government’s medium-term development goals was to promote and encourage small-to-medium enterprises. 

“We have the potential to grow our own economy if given the opportunity.” 

He blamed the provincial government for giving little concern for small to medium enterprises on the island, describing the entire asylum deal as a calculated move to benefit others.

The Australian opposition last week ridiculed the million-dollar contract as a new twist on prime minister Tony Abbott’s plan to buy back the boats.

“I am baffled by such arrangements where Singapore and UK have benefited in the refurbishment and ownership of the floating hotel.”

He said Bibby Progress had misleading and damaging statements about existing accommodation on Manus.

“Local guesthouses and lodges are very cheap compared to that provided by the UK-owned floating hotel,” Abbott had said.

Tasion owns Seeadler Bay Hotel Resort that had deluxe rooms, laundry service, restaurant and hire car business that had the same opportunities like other local hotels in accommodating Australian staff working at the processing centre.

The asylum centre is home to 1,101 boat people with more people expected to be brought in from Guam and Nauru.