Nov 21st 2017

No Business in Abuse will step up its campaign against Canstruct Pty Ltd, following revelations the Queensland engineering firm was quietly awarded the lucrative garrison and welfare contract for the Nauru detention camp.

Reporting by Fairfax media today confirms that the company will receive $385 million dollars – over one million dollars per day – to operate the centre for 12 months, undertaking all activities at the camp including security, movement of refugees, food, clothing and welfare.

GetUp’s Matthew Phillips who runs the No Business in Abuse campaign targeting detention centre contractors said Canstruct has chosen to profit from the abuse of men, women and children.

“Canstruct’s directors have taken on this contract in the full knowledge that it makes the company complicit in gross human rights abuses, and exposes the directors, the company’s bankers and clients to significant reputational and financial risk,” Mr Phillips said.

“The Nauru Detention Camp has been found to be a human rights catastrophe, where women are assaulted and children abused.

“Canstruct has chosen to be complicit in this abuse, and will face a relentless campaign from thousands of Australians, endangering its ability to obtain finance and secure contracts with other companies and institutions.”

Since No Business in Abuse launched, nine local councils – including the City of Sydney – pledged not to do business with companies profiting from abusive detention, and Newcastle University did not renew it’s contract with Broadspectrum after students, staff and the community demanded it end its association with abuse.

The Nauru Detention Centre currently houses 369 people, including children, but Department of Immigration and Border Protection staff recently revealed in Senate Estimates that the engineering firm Canstruct has no experience in providing welfare services. Previous garrison and welfare contracts have allowed contractors to permit the use of force against detainees, which include women and children.

“It is simply unconscionable that a building and civil engineering firm with no experience in the provision of welfare services would be handed the power to decide when to use force against refugees, including children,” Mr Phillips said.

Canstruct has been awarded the contract after a limited tender process of just one candidate, after former contractor Broadspectrum and prison operator Serco withdrew.

Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield), the company currently in charge of the controversial offshore detention centres, bowed to a global campaign run by No Business in Abuse in May last year, when it announced it would exit the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres by October 31, 2017.