Many who are familiar with the Australian government's policy of offshore processing for refugees will have heard of Manus Island.
The remote province of Papua New Guinea is home to the former Manus Regional Processing Centre, one of two offshore facilities built to house immigrants who attempt to get into Australia by boat. The centre was closed at the end of last year amid much controversy, leaving only the one on Nauru still operational.
During the MRPC's operational years, Transfield (now Broadspectrum) Services were contracted to maintain the complex and had engaged Wilson to provide security. Many former Defence Force personnel signed up, including Michael Coates, the author of Manus Days: The Untold Story of Manus Island. Coates initially applied to be a Safety and Security Advisor at the MRPC, later getting promoted to the Emergency Response Team. He came on board following a deadly riot at the centre in February 2014 during the final days of G4S's contract.
As a member of the ERT at the MRPC, Coates was at the forefront of many incidences of unrest, mostly fomented by Iranian detainees. Manus Days can be said to be an eyewitness account of what Coates and his colleagues went through in the course of their duties, just as Mark Isaacs' The Undesirablesis a chronicle of what the former Salvation Army caseworker witnessed during his stint on Nauru.
Coates had to deal with political correctness from above and corrupt local Papuan officials while detainees were self-harming, threatening local staff at MRPC and preparing for the next riot. He was also privy to the dynamics between the various ethnic groups the asylum seekers belonged to. From what he gathered, the Iranians were the most troublesome but also the most vocal, having attracted a large number of advocates in Australia, mostly from the liberal-left. He can accurately testify that most of what had been reported in the mainstream media about the abuses that went on at the MRPC was quite wrong, as he had been on the scene for a large part of the time. In fact, the publication of Manus Days was delayed by three weeks due to its controversial content.
Disturbing: Former security officer and soldier Michael Coates' personal account of what he witnessed during his stint at the Manus Regional Processing Centre.
It is hard to come up with a good reason to doubt Coates' honesty, especially since the modern mainstream media has been exposed for being engaged in publishing fake news meant to brainwash the masses. There does not seem to be anything Coates would stand to gain for lying, especially when a sticky topic like refugee rights is involved. In fact, he was forced to keep a low profile during the period of his employment with Wilson on Manus Island, for fear of getting doxxed by left-wingers.
Like The Undesirables, Manus Days provides insight into the offshore detention policy practised by Canberra. Each book covers one side of the coin, having been written by two very different authors from opposing backgrounds but working with the same group of people nonetheless.