Brian Cassey: The Other Side of Manus
© Brian Cassey
The central policy in Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's attempt to be re-elected this year is his 'Pacific Solution' for asylum seekers. Central to that policy is Manus Island, Papua New Guinea - now known to most Australian’s as simply the ‘the hell’ that houses the now notorious asylum seeker detention centre.
However, Manus has another side. The largest of the eighteen Admiralty Islands in the Bismarck Archipelago it lies 320 kilometres north of the mainland of PNG and is home to a population of just over fifty thousand. Nestled just 200 kilometres south of the equator Manus is an island paradise liberally sprinkled with coconut and sago palms and surrounded by crystal clear coral gardens and seas that provide a bountiful staple diet.
The people who live here, are - almost without exception and not surprisingly - cheery, welcoming and rarely without a smile. Crime and violence are rare.They are hoping that if they must have a detention centre in their midst it will bring in extra funds to build a new market and hospital to replace the ramshackle, repair their rocky roads ... and bring a little economic benefit to the island.
© Brian Cassey 2013