Christchurch social housing and Manus/Nauru Island Detention Centres

Manus Island and Nauru Island. Two equatorial islands. One is a part of Papua New Guinea (Manus Island) and the other an island nation 21km². Each with a Detention Centre on them. Two detention centres that are home to a mix of refugees fleeing some of the worlds worst conflicts, asylum seekers being hounded by their Government and criminal overflow from Australia’s prisons.

The environment is tropical, with high heat and humidity, tropical downpours, snakes. Because of the sandy soils of the island, there is little holding capacity in the soil for groundwater, which means when drought breaks out there is severe and sometimes crippling water shortages.

The mix of detainees who inhabit the facilities on top of these soils should never have been here in the first place. They occupy immigration facilities set up by Australian authorities, determined that no asylum seeker, refugee or other person who did not arrive through official processes should ever reach the Australian mainland.

Broadspectrum are a subsidiary of Spanish company Ferrovial. They run the Manus and Nauru Island facilities. According to the Broadspectrum website, the company has the responsibility for providing social welfare services to Manus Island Detention Centre inmates.

Broadspectrum are therefore implicated in the operation of two Detention Centres where grave and sustained human rights abuses against vulnerable inmates have gone on under their watch. Indeed the establishment and operation of the Detention Centres themselves are significant abuses, which include physical and sexual abuse of inmates. Some of the allegations are severe enough to have progressed to formal allegations.

Now, the same Broadspectrum wants to hold contracts for the running of social housing in Christchurch. 2,500 houses are thought be for sale, despite Housing Minister, Amy Adams saying that they cannot be sold off further.

It is wholly inappropriate for a company linked to such grave abuses as those that are going on on Nauru and Manus Islands to be in any way involved in social housing. It is still more so that they seek to hold contracts for housing in a city which is recovering from significant trauma. Its whose most needy residents have enough socio-economic related stress in their lives, never mind whether or not their new housing provider can be trusted.

Broadspectrum also holds contracts with Auckland Transport, and further contracts with Transpower that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It subcontracts security work out to the Wilson Group, which in New Zealand includes First Security and Wilson Parking. Wilson Security, which is part of the Wilson Group are complicit in the abuses that have occurred at these two detention centres, by virtue of some of their staff knowing what was going on and failing to act to stop it.

Corporate dollars should not come ahead of human rights at any point in time. Broadspectrum made 45% of its total revenue in 2016 from Manus and Nauru Island Detention Centres, which totaled A.U.$1.646 billion. At the same time there were reports from the social welfare workers at both facilities that some of their clients were talking about suicide and included children.

Based on this would you trust Broadspectrum with social housing in New Zealand?

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