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PNG's Manus govt worried over naval base plans

The upgrade of the Lombrum Naval Base would make Manus become a significant security shield for Australia and USA, and there is no real justification for it for the Manus people.

This is according to the Manus Provincial Government committee that was created early this month to act on behalf of the MPG, in relation to Australia and the US interest in placing navies on Lombrum.

On December 7th, the Manus Provincial Government approved for the establishment of the ‘Manus Position Committee’ (MPC) which includes the Manus Provincial Administrator and 11 other highly qualified Manusians from a wide background.

Members of the committee met early this month in Lorengau and said any responsible Provincial Government would put the lives and future of its people first and the Manus Provincial Government (MPG) is no different.

In a statement, Governor Charlie Benjamin said the position of responsibility for its people and their future is that the proposed upgrade must be abandoned.

“Obviously, the MPG is extremely concerned at the speed at which the governments of PNG, USA and Australia are moving towards rolling out the Lombrum Naval Base upgrade with no or little input to the conversation from the MPG and Manusians living within the Province and abroad.

“Risks associated with upgrade of the Lombrum Naval Base and its usage by USA and Australia (including adverse social and environmental impacts) do not auger well at all for a peaceful future for Manus.

“Manus has been subject to deals from the Australian government, the recent being the processing and now transit centre for asylum seekers and refugees.

“What’s left from that deal, is 39 stateless children born from those refuges and asylum seekers. Children whose future remains uncertain.

“The MPG insists on being at the table to determine if the exposure for Manus and its people would be justified,” stressed the Governor.

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