November 01, 2013
Manus businessman Sam Tasion, who owns and operates a 75 room Hotel resort on the island of Manus responded to news about the floating hotel city that accommodated 635 staff working at the Asylum Processing Centre that had hotel amenities – kitchen, dining, laundry and recreational facilities as ‘dirty business’ that could see local businesses miss out on spin off benefits by the locals, especially with overnight accommodation.
He said there was no consideration for local business participation, even more was the concern about spin off business that seemed more a calculated arrangement by the Government of Australia between the two countries that promised financial benefits for the people of Manus questionable with the engagement of Bibby Progress, owned by UK company Bibby Maritime. The Federal Immigration Department, according to the AusTenders website, hired it as a bareboat charter to supply temporary accommodation for staff for K3,000 to K1,200 a night-from October 31 until 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 Australian is doing business.”
Mr Tasion has called on Manus Governor, Charlie Benjamin to explain to the people of Manus, why such business arrangements were entertained without consultation with Manus Provincial Government, and if there was, why was priority given to foreign owned companies for that matter. “We have a large number of guest houses, lodges and hotels that can provide accommodation for 635 staff working at the Asylum Processing Centre. And I do understand there are requirements that must meet Australian standards especially with accommodation; however it is also fitting that local participation be considered and given priority.” He said that local businesses on Manus that were owned by the Manus business community provided employment for the locals.
“One of PNG Government’s Medium Term Development Goals is to promote and encourage small to medium term enterprise. We have the potential to grow our own economy if given an equal opportunity like any other province in this country,” he said. He added that government emphasis on small to medium enterprise in this country was overlooked by the Governor for the island province, and described the entire arrangement between the two governments as a calculated flaw that would benefit others.
The Federal Opposition last week ridiculed the million-dollar contract as a new twist on Mr 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 that Liverpool based Website Bibby Progress had misleading and damaging statements about existing accommodation, either very difficult to find or expensive. “Local guesthouses and Lodges rates are very cheap compared to that provided by the UK owned floating hotel and therefore appalled with the manner of how information promotes a need for outside business participation on the island,” and further described it as a blatant lie.
He added that since the inception of the deal, local business houses sacrificed a lot financially, and to be cut off from benefitting was a poor oversight by the Provincial Government. Mr Tasion owns Seeadler Bay Hotel Resort that had deluxe rooms, a 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. He said if there was a problem with Australia’s accommodation requirements like security, then local hotels and lodges on Manus could adhere and improve their service to Australia’s requirements. “If the Australian Government does not like our overnight accommodation set up, then come clear and work with us.
We will meet their requirements, said Mr Tasion.” The Manus Asylum Centre was home to 1101 boat people with more people expected to be brought in from Guam and Nauru, meaning spin off businesses looked promising for local guest houses, and hotel owners on the island of Manus. “The Australian government owes the people of Manus for our land, and therefore the need to give something back to our people in terms of business opportunities and employment was paramount,” he said.
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