Broadspectrum may lose its PNG detention centre

Photo by Chris Hopkins/Getty Images

Shares in Broadspectrum are under pressure after the Papua New Guinea Supreme court declared the detention of 850 asylum seekers at Manus Island illegal under the country’s constitution.

The shares lost another 4.4% to $1.065 in early trade, adding to the 10% fall of yesterday.

Broadspectrum, which was Transfield Services until it changed its name because of controversy over its role running offshore detention centres, has noted the ruling by Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court relating to the Regional Processing Centre at Manus.

“The company is awaiting further guidance from the centre operator, PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service and Broadspectrum’s client, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection,” Broadspectrum said in a statement.

Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled the detention of asylum seekers breaches their constitutional right to personal liberty.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton is in talks with PNG foreign affairs and immigration minister Rimbink Pato.

Dutton said: “In terms of the regional processing centre in Manus, it’s part of PNG territory obviously and the decision of the Supreme Court is one that binds the PNG government not the Australian government.”

There are local reports in PNG that the asylum seekers may be sent to Nauru.

Broadspectrum is currently operating on a 12-month extension to its $1.2 billion contract running Australia’s detention centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

The company believes the extension means it is well placed to secure a new five-year contract with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Broadspectrum is up against a second, so far unnamed company, in the tender process.

The financial results for the half year to December show underlying profit of $27.9 million, up 54%, and the company also cut net debt to $460 million from $569 million, driven by strong cash flow.