Bougainville Mining News: Momis continues “ethic” attack on Australian research

JM PO

Jubilee Australia claims to be a body undertaking ‘scientific research’. Any scientific research body must adhere to strict ethical standards when planning, carrying out, and reporting on its research.

“Jubilee and its partners were researching sensitive issues in Bougainville’s complex post-conflict situation. The research, and Jubilee’s report, involve serious risks, not just for those being interviewed, but for the wider Bougainville community. By taking sides on complex, divisive issues, Jubilee has added to sources of division and conflict

President Momis raising new issues about Jubilee : Pictured above with PNG PM Peter O’Neil on a visit to Panguna earlier this year

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MOMIS QUERIES JUBILEE AUSTRALIA’S RESEARCH ETHICS

The President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has raised new questions about research about Bougainville undertaken by Australian NGO, Jubilee Australia. Jubilee’s report was released in Australia in September.

On the basis of interviews with just 65 people selected because they opposed resuming mining at Panguna, Jubilee claimed that the Panguna mine affected communities as a whole were also opposed to mining. But as President Momis has pointed out, there are between 10,000 and 15,000 people in those communities, a majority supporting resumption of mining.

BOUGAINVILLE MINING LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS DEVELOPMENT

Presentation to the people of Bougainville

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BOUGAINVILLE Policy Act and Regulations Presentation to landowners

In a series of three letters to Jubilee in September, October and November, President Momis has criticised the report. He questioned research methodology used, false claims made on the basis of interviews with a tiny selected group of opponents of mining, many serious factual errors in the report, and the track record of opposition to BCL and Rio Tinto on the part of Jubilee Australia’s research partners, Kristian Lasslett and the Bismarck Ramu Group.

The President was especially critical of Jubilee’s failure to at any time communicate with the ABG or Panguna landowner associations about the research – failing even to seek ABG views on a draft of the report before it was published. He agreed with an Australian academic who criticised Jubilee as involved in advocacy, not research.

Today President Momis raised new issues about Jubilee and its research. He said:

“Jubilee Australia claims to be a body undertaking ‘scientific research’. Any scientific research body must adhere to strict ethical standards when planning, carrying out, and reporting on its research.

“Jubilee and its partners were researching sensitive issues in Bougainville’s complex post-conflict situation. The research, and Jubilee’s report, involve serious risks, not just for those being interviewed, but for the wider Bougainville community. By taking sides on complex, divisive issues, Jubilee has added to sources of division and conflict.

It has undermined the carefully considered efforts of the democratically established ABG to build consensus amongst divided Bougainvilleans on the difficult issues involved in choices on mining.

“If Jubilee had been adhering to proper ethical research standards, they would not have intervened in this complex situation, and taken sides. They would not have rejected having any form of communication with the ABG and landowner associations.

“Jubilee Australia’s website claims that their research program is overseen by a Research Centre Advisory Committee comprising ‘leading Australian academics’, which they say strengthens Jubilee’s ‘capacity for rigorous, academic based research’. Such a Committee should surely play the most important role of setting and overseeing Jubilee’s research ethics.

“But it now emerges that a member of that six member Advisory Committee who had extensive knowledge of PNG was never informed by Jubilee about the research. This fact may help explain Jubilee’s use of badly flawed research methodology. It raises serious questions about how Jubilee ensures that its research adheres to the highest standards of research ethics expected of a ‘scientific research’ body.

“I have today written to Jubilee’s Board, asking when they will respond to the issues raised in my two most recent letters to them about their report (dated 26 October and 2 November). But in addition I have raised serious questions about how Jubilee ensures that proper standards of research ethics are met, so that its otherwise well-intentioned work does not descend into advocacy of particular unsubstantiated viewpoints.

“I have further asked how Jubilee can be held accountable in terms of their ethical standards. Jubilee is an Australian NGO working on international development issues. Most such NGOs are members of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), which administers a complaints process that can handle queries about NGO research ethics.

“But from the list of members appearing on the ACFID website, it appears that Jubilee is not a member of ACFID. If so, the ABG cannot seek to hold Jubilee accountable through ACFID. I am questioning Jubilee’s board as to whether it is open to being held accountable by independent bodies.

“I have further asked Jubilee to advise whether any non-citizens who have been in PNG at any time to undertake this research have held the research visas required under PNG law.

President Momis concluded:

“The ABG welcomes thorough research, and well-informed criticism. But it expects outside research bodies, in particular, to observe the highest standards and principles. In this case, there are grave doubts about many aspects of what Jubilee has done.

“Further, Jubilee has shown little willingness to be in communication with the democratic government of Bougainville. Their one communication with us in the more than two years they have been doing their Bougainville ‘research’ was a letter in late October stating that my criticisms of their report were ‘without basis’. I now call on Jubilee’s Board to engage with the ABG in relation to the serious questions that we are asking, both in today’s letter, and my letters of October and November.”

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2 comments on “Bougainville Mining News: Momis continues “ethic” attack on Australian research

  1. Jubilee’s underhand tactics and unprofessional methodology indicate that it’s a dodgy organisation that should be held accountable for any damage it does in the region. While NGOs of this kind do some good work worldwide, acquiring input from all interested parties to issues such as mining on Bougainville is surely a no-brainer!

  2. Hello Bougainville News,
    How come you didnt publish this from Jubilee Australia back in October 2014
    See http://www.jubileeaustralia.org/latest-news/jubilee-australia-responds-to-bougainville-president-momis-regarding-its-voices-of-bougainville-repo

    Jubilee Australia responds to Bougainville President Momis regarding its ‘Voices of Bougainville’ report
    Release Date: 27-Oct-2014
    Jubilee Australia responds to Bougainville President Momis regarding its ‘Voices of Bougainville’ report

    Jubilee Australia today responded to a letter by Bougainville President John Momis that raised concerns about Jubilee’s recently published report: Voices of Bougainville: Nikana Kangsi, Nikana Dong Damana (Our Land, Our Future).

    The response, signed by Jubilee’s Chair Luke Fletcher on behalf of the 5-member Board, states that ‘the Jubilee Australia Board has carried out a detailed review to address each of the specific concerns raised regarding the report. Our investigation has found these criticisms to be without basis…The Board stands by its original judgement regarding the importance of public discussion on this issue.’

    The response to President Momis’ complaint that the report claims to represent all of Bougainville is specifically rejected, citing one of the several explicit statements in the Report to the contrary: ‘Bougainville is a large and diverse island – this report did not attempt to survey the entire population. Doubtless, some communities in other parts of Bougainville may have differing views both about what happened in the past, and what should happen in the future’ (p. 46 of the Report).

    Responding to the criticism that Jubilee Australia should have consulted with the Bougainville government prior to publishing its report, the letter states that ‘it was Jubilee Australia’s judgement that gaining trust with communities could have been compromised should it have been linked, or even perceived to be linked, with government…No disrespect to the ABG or official landowner associations was intended as a result of Jubilee Australia’s decision to proceed with the research in the way it did.’

    Regarding Momis’ allegations of bias by its researchers, Jubilee stands by the professionalism of its partners, the PNG-based NGO Bismarck Ramu Group and the UK-based International State Crime Initiative, affirming them to be ‘highly professional and aware of the need for the research to be conducted in an as impartial, rigorous and systematic way as possible.’

    Speaking to its role as an Australian NGO concerned with Australian Government and corporate accountability to our neighbours in the Asia Pacific Region, Jubilee’s Board commented that ‘Australia has a strong history of involvement in the Panguna mine through its government and its corporations, making this an issue of significant concern for Australians who wish to ensure that their government and companies act responsibly, that past harms are acknowledged and mistakes not repeated.

    On 12 September 2014 Jubilee Australia published its report, Voices of Bougainville, documenting concerns raised by villagers from Bougainville’s Panguna Region regarding the proposed reopening of the Panguna Mine, and issues still lingering since the mine’s closure in 1989 and the 10-year war that followed. Respondents expressed views about a range of topics including the conflict, peace, justice and reconciliation, and their hopes for the future of Bougainville.

    See Jubilee’s full response to President Momis.

    View the report here, or download it here at http://www.jubileeaustralia.org/page/resources

    For more information contact Jubilee Australia CEO Brynnie Goodwill 0404 896 396 brynnie[at]jubileeaustralia.org

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