Australia has 'tarnished' Manus Island and military base isn't welcome, governor says

Charlie Benjamin says Australia has left people of Manus Island with nothing but ‘bad memories’

Benjamin opposes the establishment of a US-Australia military base, another decision he said was made without the consultation or involvement of Manus people.

“That’s a problem I have to deal with, and it disappoints me the Australia and Papua New Guinea did not see this as a big problem,” he said. “We are not given enough help to deal with all of this.

“So when they come and say, ‘We want to build a military base in Manus’, I say ‘I already have experience with you Australians, dealing with asylum seekers, and my people were left out’. I don’t want our people to be left out again with this military exercise.”

He said the base was clearly of benefit to Australia and the US and in response to the growing influence of China in the region. “That has to come at a price,” he said. “You can’t just come in and expect me to welcome you, and face all the social problems, while your people are safe in Australia and America. “If there is a war we are the first ones to face the missiles and you will be safe in your country.”

Nobody has spoke to us - Manus governor

Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin slams Australia over plans to redevelop a joint naval base on the Pacific island, saying he's never been consulted on the plan that the United States is also backing.

Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin told the ABC's Pacific Beat program that the deal to redevelop the Lombrum naval base was unnecessary and that he does not believe the base serves the interests of locals.

"To be honest PNG is not at war and we do not need any help right now, simply by coming to Lombrum is accommodating the interests of Australia and America," Mr Benjamin told Pacific Beat.

His comments echo those of others from Manus who are critical of the deal, including former MP Ronnie Knight, who told Pacific Beat earlier this month the plan was "bulldozed through" without local consultation.

During the APEC summit US Vice-President Mike Pence said the US would also be involved in the project, with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill thanking the US for their support.

the Opposition is already considering pursuing legal avenues against the plan, due to the lack of government consultation with the local community.