Brisbane company paid $1.4bn to run offshore processing on Nauru despite no arrivals since 2014

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    A single company running Australia’s offshore processing regime on Nauru has been paid more than than $1.4bn over the past five years, with an additional $221m added two months ago, despite no new asylum seeker arrivals on the island since 2014, and a steadily diminishing number of people it is responsible for.

    Canstruct had helped build the Nauru “regional processing centre”, and took over the running of the centre from Broadspectrum, which had endured years of negative publicity for its management of the centres, in 2017.Canstruct, a Brisbane-based company and Liberal party donor, won the contract by limited tender, meaning there was not an open and competitive process to secure the initial contract. The auditor general criticised the process, saying “it is not clear why the department could not have secured a replacement supplier using a more competitive procurement method”.Since the initial $8m commitment, the contract has been increased to $1.419bn through seven amendments, a process which allows contracts to be dramatically increased with little public scrutiny or competitive tender.

    About 115 refugees and asylum seekers sent by Australia remain on Nauru. They cannot leave the island.

    Paladin – a company headquartered in an island shack and with no experience with major contracts – received more than $500m of government money to provide garrison services at Australia’s processing centre on PNG’s Manus Island without the contract going to open tender. In a scathing report, the auditor general found the taxpayer did not get “value for money”.The Manus centre was ruled illegal by the PNG supreme court, and the Australian government agreed to pay $70m in compensation to those held within it.

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