‘Money, Manipulation and Misunderstanding on Manus Island’ by Joanne Wallis and Steffen Dalsgaard in the Journal of Pacific History. Download 'Money, Manipulation & Misunderstanding on Manus'
A PAPER by two Australian academics says that the impact of the asylum seeker camp on Manus has “inextricably involved a manipulation of the democratic process and the rule of law”.
Wallis and Dalsgaard write that, even though the so-called “regional resettlement arrangement” has delivered substantial funding to Papua New Guinea and, probably as a result, improved PNG’s relationship with Australia, the burden of the policy “will continue to be borne by ordinary Papua New Guineans, who already face myriad challenges exercising their democratic rights and receiving the protection of the law.”
The authors conclude that “overall, costs arising from the money, manipulation and misunderstanding generated by the regional resettlement arrangement seem likely to outweigh the benefits, particularly for Manusians [who are unlikely to see any benefits once the detention centre is closed] and other ordinary Papua New Guineans.”
They also say that the PNG government bears some responsibility. “It has both failed to live up to democratic processes in agreeing to host the centre and to legally as well as practically ensure the rights and security of those affected by it.
But they see that most of the responsibility lies with Australia, “a wealthy country that has outsourced its legal and moral obligations concerning asylum seekers and refugees.
“While the revived Pacific Solution might have generated some short-term political capital for successive Australian governments,” Wallis and Dalsgaard conclude, “time may reveal that damage caused to PNG, Australia’s nearest neighbour, whose stability has been long-acknowledged as of crucial strategic import, is likely to be much costlier.”