Poem: Manus as Tourist Attraction — Contract Bid

Image: Daniel Clarke

PNG has asked that someone be tasked
To examine Manus as a destination
For tourism indeed, so let’s take heed!
They’re awaiting a recommendation.

               Dear Sir or Madam
For your disposal I have a proposal
For the Manus tourism survey,
They need some actions, they need attractions
For the industry they want to purvey.

It might be great to celebrate
What happened at the war’s close,
When vast shipments of US equipments
Rotted on the base, as everyone knows.

Let’s have an exhibition of the position
Where broken-down jeeps lay around,
Jetties decayed, coral roads degrade,
Millions in capital lay on the ground.

The next exhibition we can enjoy
At the Manus naval base,
Is when refugees, girl and boy,
Entered this sorry case.

This splendid display shows day after day
Where power-abusing Morrison
(The minister for the sinister)
First appears on the horizon.

Let’s show a diorama of the drama
When Morrison announced to his slaves
In stentorian voice that they had the great choice
Of their homelands or jail for their graves.

Amid the grey gloom we see the next room
Showing Reza Barati’s last breath.
Shoddy plastic figures showing the triggers
Of a violent unnecessary death.

We can then move outside to see the spot
Where Hamid Kehazaei cut his toe
But routine treatment he never got,
And he too was brought low.

On one occasion without evasion
When tensions rose too high
Angry sailors shot with all they’d got
And they didn’t shoot at the sky.

So let’s have a display, which can portray
Each bold policeman and guard,
Whose position will tempt to show contempt
For the prisoners out in the yard.

And now let’s install a plaque on the wall
To fete the seventy million recovered
From a grudging state, who, true to relate,
Hated their sins being discovered.

Now, some have got away to the USA,
Little thanks to Oz, I construe,
So a few bright spots (or even lots)
Don’t make up for what they went through.


The final tableau, for those who would know,
Which we long have waited for
Is there on the stand, in Australia’s fair hand:
Farewell to International Law”.

May our application meet your approbation,
If it does not, then so be it.
We’re not being simplistic, just realistic,
But maybe you can’t or won’t see it.

So, Madam or Sir, let’s not cause a great stir
Nor forget the Manus Community.
If we’re wise enough, let them get some stuff,
Don’t let Port Moresby loot with impunity.

PS –
Perhaps in this contract you’ll have an entr’acte
Consulting the Security Chief,
Whose latest chatter was “Principles matter,”
To which our answer is brief.

What can be the import? Principles of what sort
Can he possibly be meaning?
Cruelty and Rudeness, Violence and Crudeness
Are the precepts that best suit his leaning.

NEXT, his intention’s to change the Convention
On Refugees – that’s what he uttered.
What forbearance! Any legal adherence
He’s already totally gutted!