Major upgrades to security at the Manus Island detention centre, including the installation of CCTV cameras and better fencing, had been recommended by the commander of Operation Sovereign Borders three months before the deadly riots in February, but were not acted on, new documents show.
Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, commander of the government's Operation Sovereign Borders, told the government in November that the security at the detention centre was not appropriate.
He made multiple recommendations including improvements to fencing, lighting and the installation of CCTV, according to newly released senate estimate documents.
Lieutenant Campbell's report was received by both the immigration department and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison on November 5. But three months later, as violence erupted in the Papua New Guinea centre that killed one asylum seeker and injured 62 others, not one of those changes had been implemented.
Witnesses to the brutal attack, who have spoken to Fairfax Media, say the fencing was so unstable it was pushed over by PNG nationals, including those employed as security guards; and there were major power outages just before the violence causing confusion and panic among asylum seekers.
There is also no suggestion that any of the violence was captured on CCTV footage during February 16 and 17.
Labor immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, said Mr Morrison had been negligent and reckless in not immediately implementing Lieutenant Campbell's suggestions.
"It is clear the Minister failed to act – he has demonstrated gross incompetence in managing this facility," Mr Marles said.
"There were clear recommendations to address security including fencing raised – Minister Morrison has shown negligence and recklessness in not actively making sure these issues were fixed."
When Scott Morrison came into power as Immigration Minister in September, he ordered a "full force protection assessment to be undertaken at all offshore processing centres and at Christmas Island."
The order, he said at the time, was based on his own "concerns about the status of security arrangements and adequacy of security infrastructure put in place by the former government."
The review was to be undertaken by Lieutenant Campbell, who was to look at any "weaknesses that could be exploited or whether there are potential threats against the centre from within and outside in particular".
Now, nearly six months since that final assessment was handed down, an order has reportedly been placed for prison-grade perimeter fencing.
In a statement on Tuesday night, Mr Morrison's office said: "The need for such an immediate assessment was necessitated by the clearly unsuitable state of infrastructure and security arrangements on Manus Island put in place by the previous government.
"In November following completion of the review the minister authorised implementation of all recommendations and secured funding to enable their implementation.
"This occurred at the same time that he initiated a review of the contracting arrangements for all service providers on Nauru and Manus Island which resulted in the decision not to continue the contracts for G4S and The Salvation Army at the conclusion of their contract term in February. The recommendations of the report continue to be implemented."
The story Documents show Manus warnings were made in November first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.