The small company that won a controversial $423 million security contract on Manus Island is likely to have its contract renewed despite serious investigations.
The auditor-general is examining whether the Home Affairs Department appropriately managed the procurement process when it chose Paladin to provide garrison services for the immigration centres on the Papua New Guinea Island.
The little-known company, whose Australian arm was registered to a beach shack on Kangaroo Island until earlier this year, was awarded the contract in 2017 through a closed tender process.
The company has rejected suggestions of misconduct or corruption over the contract.
In February, Paladin’s Manus Island staff walked off the job claiming they had been underpaid and overworked.
The audit is expected to be tabled in parliament in January 2020.
But the contract Paladin holds runs out at the end of June and the department is deciding who will now provide the services.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said that decision was one solely for the department.
“The likely arrangement is that there will be a continuation,” he told ABC’s Insiders on Sunday when pressed on whether Paladin was still in the running.
“The department will work with the PNG authorities. We need to make sure that we’re getting value for money.”
Labor says it seems the taxpayer’s money is being given away in a closed, rushed process once again.
“Peter Dutton this morning first said he wasn’t going to comment while the negotiations were continuing, and then said he expected the contract to continue,” home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally told reporters in Sydney.
“Paladin can call the government Monday morning and demand whatever they want because Peter Dutton has let the cat out of the bag that the government has no one else, apparently available to continue those services.”
Mr Dutton repeatedly said he didn’t want to be spending any government money on Manus Island or Nauru, which also hosts an Australian offshore immigration centre.
“I don’t want people there; I want them off as quickly as possible,” he said.