Bougainville Mining News: Bougainville mine now in play, government says

PNG PM

Secret dealings of this kind are completely unacceptable to the people of Bougainville, It would be unacceptable to the people of Bougainville for the national government to try to take control of Panguna. Such a move, would trigger demands for immediate independence “

“We cannot allow a new form of colonial dealings in Bougainville’s resources to occur.”

Bougainville President John Momis

The Bougainville Autonomous Government is convinced Bougainville Copper — which owns a mine containing copper and gold worth more than $50 billion, as well as a recently ­reconfirmed exploration licence — is now in play.

As reported in todays Australian Newspaper  By: Rowan Callick Asia Pacific Editor

Bougainville President John Momis last week called on Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Rio Tinto to reveal any dealings over Rio’s 53.58 per cent shares in BCL.

“For over a year now, Mr O’Neill has expressed interest in the national government taking control of BCL,” Mr Momis said.

“He proposes that PNG operate the Panguna mine in Bougainville in the same way it operates the Ok Tedi mine,” which Mr O’Neill’s government took over in 2013.

The PNG government has hired Peter Graham, who led ExxonMobil’s successful construction of the country’s first liquefied natural gas project, to manage Ok Tedi mine and potentially to steer other state-owned mining assets.

The Bougainville mine, which was closed by conflict in 1989 and which would cost an estimated $6.5bn or more to reopen, is also owned 19.06 per cent by the PNG government, and 27.36 per cent by other shareholders.

Mr O’Neill confirmed that “we have had discussions with other shareholders of BCL on a range of issues including the reopening of the mine and the disposal of shares by existing shareholders, including Rio Tinto”.

But, he added, “There are no secret deals, and we are disappointed that President Momis is trying to use this issue at the time of the election” for a new Bougainville government that takes place at the end of next month.

“President Momis has been informed of whatever talks we have with other shareholders of BCL, only because the state is the second biggest shareholder,” Mr O’Neill said.

There would be no talks about reopening the mine, he said, “until landowners and the people of Bougainville are ready”.

It is understood the Momis government’s concern was aroused by information it had received that law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, which does a considerable amount of work for Rio internationally, had instructions to handle the sale of Rio’s shares, and had held discussions with agents in Port Moresby in relation to the deal. A Norton Rose Fulbright spokesman declined to comment when questioned by The Australian.

The BCL share price suddenly soared by 50 per cent a fortnight ago. The ASX issued a “speeding ticket”, asking the company to explain the leap. BCL said it couldn’t.

Mr Momis, whose government has recently passed new mining legislation that hands back control of all resources to landowners, said: “We cannot allow a new form of colonial dealings in Bougainville’s resources to occur.”

He said that last month he wrote to BCL, seeking advice from either it or Rio Tinto, about whether share transactions between Rio and PNG were under discussion or preparation.

“I received a brief reply from Rio, addressed to BCL but passed on to me, dated March 23. The letter simply stated that ‘Rio Tinto … is reviewing its options with respect to its stake in Bougainville Copper Ltd. This review is continuing’,” Mr Momis said.

“Secret dealings of this kind are completely unacceptable to the people of Bougainville,” he said. “It would be unacceptable to the people of Bougainville for the national government to try to take control of Panguna.” Such a move, he said, would trigger demands for immediate independence.

Peter Taylor, who has been chairman of BCL for 12 years, told The Australian “the Bougainville government seems to want the mine reopened, but we have to sit down … and see what’s doable”.

Bougainville Mining News: Rumbles from the jungle as Bougainville mine stirs

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The big questions hanging over the mine right now include: who will run the Autonomous Bougainville Government after the election due at the end of May? Nine figures are contending the presidency, including several former combatants, with the front runners probably former Catholic priest John Momis, the veteran incumbent, and Sam Akoitai, a former national mining minister.

The next government will have the responsibility of setting the parameters for the referendum on independence that must happen at some time during the five years from this July.

The Panguna mine on Bougainville Island would cost $6.5bn to restart.

Source: The Australian Rowan Callick News Limited

Even the long-suffering Bougainville Copper board, which has witnessed cargo cults, wars, and the closure of its own vast mine, was puzzled when its share price soared 50 per cent a week ago.

For this sudden surge of confidence appeared, oddly, to have been triggered by troubling news for the company — the commencement of a new Mining Act passed by the Bougainville autonomous region’s parliament, which hands back control of all resources to landowners.

The future of the Bougainville mine, which still contains copper and gold worth about $50 billion, is tied up with its complex past, with the long geopolitical shadow cast by the 1989-2001 civil war on the island — and with cargo-­cultist hopes held out by local leaders allied to eccentric foreigners constantly seeking to seize control of the resources from BCL.

The ASX issued a “speeding ticket”, asking the company to explain the April 2 share price leap. BCL replied that it couldn’t.

The price had slid back down to 28c by Friday.

The directors of the company, which is 53.58 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, 19.06 per cent by the Papua New Guinea government, and 27.36 per cent by other shareholders, are trying to juggle an enormous range of unknowns and variables, without even the compensating benefits of having a mine to run.

It has remained closed since May 1989, and would cost upwards of $6.5bn to reopen.

The big questions hanging over the mine right now include: who will run the Autonomous Bougainville Government after the election due at the end of May? Nine figures are contending the presidency, including several former combatants, with the front runners probably former Catholic priest John Momis, the veteran incumbent, and Sam Akoitai, a former national mining minister.

The next government will have the responsibility of setting the parameters for the referendum on independence that must happen at some time during the five years from this July.

What will be the response of the national government led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to the new Bougainville mining law? National legislation insists that, as in Australia, such resources are owned by the state.

And Mr O’Neill has hired Peter Graham, who led the remarkably successful construction of the country’s first liquefied natural gas project for ExxonMobil, to manage the Ok Tedi mine, which the Port Moresby government nationalised — and may be eager to deploy his skills to reopening Bougainville too, if Rio chooses to sell to PNG.

What does Rio itself want? At the end of 2014, it announced from London that it was reviewing its BCL stake.

It has not entirely lost its stomach for complex, ever-changing negotiations in developing countries with governments lacking the disciplines of party politics — managing director Sam Walsh only recently flew to Mongolia for talks about the constantly challenging Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine there.

But it could follow BHP-­Billiton, after its Ok Tedi debacle, in placing PNG in the ultimately-too-hard basket.

The key question is what do the landowners want? If they don’t want a mine back, it won’t happen.

Many do favour a reopening, since they see no alternative source of income for their families on the horizon — the agricultural potential for Bougainville is all on the coast, rather than in the mountains.

But they are themselves split into about nine recognisable factions — whereas at the time the mine was set up, during Australian colonial days, they spoke as a unified group.

The legislation does not specifically mention the BCL mine, because it is intended to cover the whole of the highly prospective region, which has since the onset of the civil war attracted growing numbers of carpetbaggers seeking to set up their own private operations — almost always seeking gold — in collaboration with ex-combatants who often retain guns.

Formerly, BCL was granted the only mining licence in Bougainville, which it still holds — but from the PNG government — while the Bougainville government now says its legislation supersedes the national legislation, under the accord agreed at the peace conference that ended the conflict.

The company is not only governed by legislation, but operated the mine under a contract with the PNG government that remains in force.

Peter Taylor, who has been chairman of BCL for 12 years, said that “the Bougainville government seems to want the mine reopened, but we have to sit down around a table and see what’s do­able.”

He said he remained confident that “if there’s a will there to get the mine reopened, we will find a way. But we’re talking a long lead time.’

When the first study about reopening was conducted, the copper and gold prices were lower than today — but that’s not the key issue: “We’re a mining business, not a trading business,” he said.

“It will happen only if the government and the landowners want it to happen.”

President John Momis, who has driven Bougainville’s new Mining Act, said that with it, “we are completely rejecting the terrible past. The Act recognises that all owners of customary land own all minerals in, on and under their land.” And now those who joined the civil war on the side of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army based around the mine site at Panguna, are also entitled, under custom, to share in any proceeds from that land.

Bougainville Mining News: Bougainville Mining Bill Passed

 

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by Aloysius Laukai in Kubu.
The controversial Bougainville mining Bill has been passed by the ABG house. (file photo above ) The bill went through the 3rd reading to become a Bougainville law just after 11.35 am March 26 Bougainville Standard time. This now completes all the negotiations and dissatisfactions by factions of the communities throughout Bougainville.


The bill did not go un challenged but had to go through scrutiny by former combatants who demanded certain sections removed before they can allow the government to finally pass the bill.


At the time of the passing of the bill the house was full to capacity as people witnessed the passing of the bill.
more stories shortly

UPDATES

260315 MIRINGTORO NOT HAPPY
By Aloysius Laukai

The member for Central Bougainville and Minister for Communication in the Papua New Guinea National Government, JIMMY MIRINGTORO told New Dawn FM from Port Moresby that he was not happy that the ABG has rushed this bill on the eve of the ABG General elections.

He said that the ABG should have let the passing of the bill to the next government after more scrutiny from all stakeholders on Bougainville.

MR. MIRINGTORO said that pushing the bill on the eve of the ABG Elections is not proper as other outstanding issues were still not resolved on the future of mining on Bougainville.

He said that from day one he had warned the ABG against the bill especially when the people are still in the dark of this bill that could take away their rights form their land and resources forever.

MR. MIRINGTORO also said that the bill was written by outsiders like the Adam Smith International who have been involved in controversial development policies in the third world.

He said that it was unfortunate the government did not listen to the cries of the citizens and passed the bill.

Meanwhile, New Dawn FM understands that if there are some issues that have not been highlighted can now be done through an amendment of the Bougainville Mining Law by the next ABG Government that will come after the ABG General Elections.

The writs for the election will be issued by the Speaker, ANDREW MIRIKI at 4pm this Friday March 27th

 

 

 

Bougainville Mining News: Ex-combatants in Bougainville support controversial Bougainville Mining Act.

 

Grand Chief Momis addresses Excoms

“The government has done everything to thoroughly explain to the people the new Bill and how it will greatly regulate the extractive industry on Bougainville.We cannot continue to undermine the government for it is the very thing that we fought and died for, doing so only renders the purpose of our struggle moot,  .We are all behind the government and will not resort to creating instability within the region.

Spokesman for the ex-combatants, Cornelius Solomon

Ex-combatants in Bougainville have rallied behind the Autonomous Bougainville Government to support the passing of the controversial permanent Bougainville Mining Act.

Written and Supplied by Anthony Kaybing

The ex-combatants met with the ABG and its officials this afternoon (Tuesday) to express their support of the bill and assured ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis of their intent.

The permanent Bougainville Mining Bill is the brainchild of the Momis led ABG in its efforts to curb mineral resource problems that led to the bloody ten year civil conflict on the island.

The Bill if passed will give landowners a pronounced say on how mineral extraction is carried out on their lands and also controls the type of would be developers interested in mining on Bougainville.

The Bougainville Mining Department as well as the Bougainville Justice Department have been carrying out widespread awareness on the issue throughout Bougainville to explain the intricacies of the Bill to Bougainville communities.

Despite being hailed as a successful attempt by the government to protect Bougainville’s interests there have been certain elements who continue to argue that the bill is a sham and designed to sell Bougainville.

Foremost amongst its critics is former Bougainville Revolutionary Army strongman Sam Kauona who claims that the Bill lacks certain details that safe guard Bougainville from being exploited again.

But a different sentiment was echoed by Mr Kauona’s former comrades who claimed ownership of the government and in this light respected the ABG’s intent on passing the Bill.

Spokesman for the ex-combatants, Cornelius Solomon said the government has done everything to thoroughly explain to the people the new Bill and how it will greatly regulate the extractive industry on Bougainville.

Cornelius Solomon on behalf of excoms affirms ABG support

“We cannot continue to undermine the government for it is the very thing that we fought and died for, doing so only renders the purpose of our struggle moot,” Mr Solomon said.

Mr Solomon said that the ex-combatants were all behind the government and would not resort to creating instability within the region.

President Momis and his government also expressed their gratitude to the ex-combatants for taking the initiative to recognize the ABG’s efforts to act in the best interest of the people of Bougainville.

The Bill will be tabled sometime this week in the Bougainville House of Representatives as the members prepare to sit for the final sitting of the ABG second house since coming into office in 2010 before if goes to the polls in May.

 

Tourism News: Bougainville and PNG continues to attract International cruise ships boosting tourism, economic and cultural opportunities

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Bougainville continues to attract International cruise ships boosting tourism, economic and cultural opportunities throughout island according to Bougainville tourism operator Zhon Bosco Miriona .

“One of the potential benefits of cruising is that it brings visitors to remote areas that cannot otherwise to reached, providing a boost to village economies through the provision of shore excursions, cultural experiences and handicrafts”

As the PNGTIA points out cruising allows a new source of economic income and development which can provide associated benefits in areas such as health, employment and education,”

Zhon Bosco Miriona Managing Director (pictured below left recently promoting to international market): Bougainville Experience Tours and regional member for the PNG Tourism Industry Association , manages cruise ship tours from Kieta and Arawa

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Picture at top: Passengers of a cruise ship arriving at the Kuri Resort :130 visited with 24 of them going diving.

 

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UPDATE from Lawrence Belleh ABG Tourism CEO : In March 2015 a cruise ship will visit the Queen Karoola Harbour  Bougainville .This is the first trip to the old Kesa Plantation that is being considered to be turned into a tourism hub on the Northern tip of Buka Island. The hub would benefit  Haku, Halia, Hagogohe, Peit and Tons constituencies and their people. There will be also a  visit to Pororan Island to experience the sand, beach, cultural displays (photo above)  and the opportunity buy Bougainville souvenirs.

 Media coverage

Shipping companies are taking an increasing interest in PNG, with passenger arrivals surging and even big ships now heading to PNG’s and Bougainville shores, Brian Johnston reports.

A P&O cruise liner arrives in Milne Bay. Credit: David Conn

The cruise news looks good. According to a report by the Pacific Islands Forum in mid-2013, the cruise industry has grown 125 per cent since 2005 and 143 new ships have been launched.

Particularly strong growth has been recorded in the Asian and Australian markets; a record 834,000 Australians took a cruise holiday in 2013. That puts Papua New Guinea in a geographically advantageous position.

What’s more, there’s plenty of room for expansion: currently only one in a hundred international cruisers (about 200,000 passengers) visit any Pacific island. In PNG, only five per cent of holiday arrivals are cruise passengers.

‘Cruise tourism in Papua New Guinea is facing a bright future with increased international interest in cruising and increasing willingness from cruise shipping companies to include Papua New Guinea on Pacific itineraries,’ concluded a recent report from the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA).

 

boat Of Arawa

The World ( pictured above) arriving last June at Pokpok Island ( pictured above from Simon Pentanu ) , Central Bougainville.

Significant markets

PNG 9000x2

PNG 9000xThe US, New Zealand, Japan and the UK are significant markets, but half of all cruise visitors to PNG are Australians. That sector is also significant because many cruises are one way, with Australian visitors often extending with land-based holidays.

The PNG Government is taking notice. In 2010 it launched its first comprehensive cruise strategy which looked to improving port facilities and opportunities for shore excursions, waiving visa fees for cruise passengers, and reducing pilot fees by half. With expedition cruising already established, the aim was to entice luxury mid-size ships and even big operators.

‘Cruise tourism in Papua New Guinea is facing a bright future with increased international interest.’

In October 2014, the TPA launched a trade website to educate and inform travel agents. It has also emphasised PNG as a cruise destination in international trade shows and tourism events in Europe, the US and Australia.

While new jetties have been built in Kitava and Kaibola, among others, Milne Bay became the focus of efforts, since Alotau already had a good port and is well positioned on potential cruise routes from Australia. Wharfs were extended and new public facilities added.

In 2013, the arrival of P&O Cruises’ 2050-passenger Pacific Dawn in Milne Bay showed the strategy delivering results.

Pacific Dawn’s entry into the region allowed a new wave of low-cost travellers to see the beauty and thriving culture of PNG at a much lower price point than travel to PNG previously allowed,’ says Stuart Thompson, TPA’s Australia and New Zealand representative.

‘It’s a game changer. Mass cruising provides greater consumer awareness, growth in demand and increased repeat visitation. As we’ve witnessed with Vanuatu, cruising has the potential to attract a percentage of past passengers back to the destination for an extended holiday.’

Growing presence

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Currently P&O Cruises visits five PNG ports and will add Kavieng and Madang early this year. It has already announced a significant increase in its cruise presence, with its 2015-16 program including its first back-to-back PNG cruises from Cairns, and its first dedicated PNG cruises from Brisbane and Sydney.

‘The addition of two more ships has given us the flexibility to increase our PNG itineraries and open up new destinations. P&O’s return to PNG was possible because of the strong support of the national government and local authorities, particularly in relation to the provision of infrastructure to accommodate cruise ship visits,’ explains P&O Cruises’ CEO Ann Sherry.

In 2014, Pacific Dawn wasn’t alone in visiting PNG waters. Other visits were made by Japan’s NYK Cruises, Holland-America Line’s Amsterdam, the British ships Black Watch and Caledonian Sky, French Polynesia-based Paul Gauguin, ultra-luxe residential cruise ship The World and three ships from both Hapag-Lloyd and Silversea. Princess Cruises now features PNG across 14 different cruises; it has also added PNG to its 2016 world cruise.

‘Mass cruising provides greater consumer awareness, growth in demand and increased repeat visitation.’

Small-size expedition ships continue to have a strong presence, among them Coral Princess Cruises’ Oceanic Discoverer and North Star Cruises’ True North, which carries a helicopter and Zodiac landing boats for access to remote areas. One of its three itineraries focuses on diving the remote Louisiade Archipelago. Aurora Expeditions has a 12-night cruise from Cairns that includes the Trobriand Islands and Tufi fjords.

Cruising benefits

One of the potential benefits of cruising is that it brings visitors to remote areas that cannot otherwise to reached, providing a boost to village economies through the provision of shore excursions, cultural experiences and handicrafts.

The TPA says 90 per cent of revenue from coastal tourism operators comes from cruising in some destinations. “Cruising allows a new source of economic income and development which can provide associated benefits in areas such as health, employment and education,” says Stuart Thompson.

With the big surge in PNG cruising barely two years old, that remains to be seen, but certainly these are exciting times for cruise tourism in PNG and Bougainville. Watch this space.

For More Information on Bougainville Tourism

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Bougainville Mining News: Does Bougainville mining law open doors to corporate predators

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Picture: Renzie Duncan is a mining executive who has run companies like Zues Minerals

This week Papua New Guinea Mine Watch (PNGMW) published an article questioning the motives of Adam Smith International, the company contracted by the World Bank to draft Bougainville’s new mining law (available here). According to PNGMW Adam Smith International (ASI) works for big business interests, and has harmed indigenous communities across Africa and Asia.

PNGMW claimed ASI’s friends like Renzie Duncan in the corporate world were delighted by the new Mining law pointing to his recent post this week in the popular Bougainville Forum on Facebook ,where he expressed his delight at ASI’s handiwork.

At no stage does he declare his past or current involvement in Bougainville mining (see New Dawn article below)

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Renzie Duncan is a mining executive who has run companies like Zues Minerals, a miner which PNGMW understands has been used by the Chinese government to obtain access to mineral deposits in the Pacific region

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Renzie Duncan activities on Bougainville came to light back in June 2014 in a NEW Dawn Report

 ME’EKAMUI’S MIRIORI CHALLENGED TO BE HONEST ABOUT MINING

President of Bougainville, Chief John L. Momis, has challenged “Me’ekamui Government’s” Philip Miriori to be honest about Bougainville mining issues. He was responding to a statement saying discussions about mining can happen only after the referendum on independence, and calling for Australian advisers to “go home”.

President Momis said:

“It’s amusing to see Mr Miriori say mining can happen only after the referendum. For it’s widely known in Bougainville just how deeply involved Miriori is already involved in mining. It was he who worked closely with the Americans involved in Tall J Foundation Ltd.

That company tried to do industrial mining of gold on the tailings on the Jaba River. But the people chased them away. Then a Chinese investor in Tall J. tried to get his lost money back by bringing in Chinese to gather and sell scrap metal from Panguna.

Then there is the Australian, Ian Renzie Duncan, at different times involved with Australian mining companies Zeus Resources and Transpacific Ventures.

It was he who wrote Mr Miriori’s speech delivered when Prime Minister O’Neill visited Panguna. It’s widely talked about in central Bougainville that Miriori is investing with Mr. Duncan, and that Duncan is taking alluvial gold supplied by Miriori.

“These are just a few of the mining interests that Mr. Miriori is involved in. It’s these and other mining interests that have take him off so regularly to meetings in Cairns, Brisbane, Perth, Singapore, and other business tourist destinations.

Everyone around Panguna knows one thing for sure: no other Me’ekamui President has done more foreign travel than Miriori!

“But with all his deep involvement in mining already, how can he talk about decisions on mining waiting until after the referendum? I challenge him to be honest about his long history of mining interests.

“I also challenge him to be equally honest about foreign advisers. He says Australian funded advisers are not welcome. But these advisers have all been requested by the ABG to help us fill in gaps and weaknesses in the Administration.

Although Australian funded, many are not Australian. They include Bougainvilleans.

Until recently our legislative drafting adviser was from Vanuatu. Our Policy Adviser was from Bermuda – all paid for By Australia.

“For the ABG, the two most important things about our advisers are these.

First, we only have them when we have a gap we cannot fill with a Bougainvillean.

Second, they must follow the directions of the Bougainville Government. I am absolutely confident that they do that. They do not control the ABG.

They are not here to make money for foreign companies. “I challenge Mr. Miriori to tell us about his foreign advisers, and what they are doing to make money for foreign interests. They included two Americans with the Tall J Foundation, Stewart Sytner and Thomas Megas.

There are documents freely available on the Internet that show they claim that Mr. Miriori sold them mining rights in areas to the north of the Panguna Special Mining Lease. I challenge him to tell us is what Sytner and Megas claim is true.

What about the other investors in Tall J? What advice did they give to Miriori? What about the Tall J investor who brought in the Chinese scrap metal dealers? What advice did he give?

What about the advice that Mr. Ian Renzie Duncan gives? “Mr. Miriori is not being honest about the future of mining. His hands are not clean in relation to mining. “Mr. Miriori is not being honest about foreign advisers. Again his hands are not clean. “I challenge him to be honest on these matters. I challenge him to enter these debates only when he has clean hands.

Bougainville News: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to address concerns on Bougainville visit

 

julie Bishop2

Put simply, this vote will determine whether Bougainville pushes ahead for full independence or chooses to remain an autonomous region of PNG.

Yet the complexity of the issues in Bougainville, and as between the ABG and PNG, means that as the referendum date draws nearer, Bougainville will again inevitably feature prominently in Australia’s foreign policy considerations.

The process of negotiation between the ABG and PNG is fraught with difficulties as there appear to be deeply entrenched differences over the future of Bougainville, the possibility of reopening the Panguna mine and the direction of economic and social development.

I believe that this region should be Australia’s highest foreign policy priority and that is why I am spending as much time as I am able to do making contact, engaging with people, listening to them and talking about issues of concern.”

Julie Bishop speaking in 2012 after her trip to Bougainville : Has her views changed ?

Picture: Julie Bishop a friend of Bougainville for many years recently hosted Autonomous #Bougainville Government MPs Joan Jerome, Rose Pihei, Elizabeth Burain in her Canberra Office

Fresh from a trip to the International Climate change in Peru South America Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will today travel to Papua New Guinea and Bougainville

The Minister will co-chair the annual Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum, and Business Dialogue and travel to Bougainville where she will meet political and community leaders to discuss the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and visit Australian aid-funded projects in Buka and Arawa.

Speaking on Sky News Australia this morning (December 14) the Minster said she was concerned about the upcoming referendum on Bougainville independence .

Ms Bishop said Bougainville wanted a referendum on independence next year but she did not believe it or PNG would be ready for a referendum for some time. “I want to meet with the autonomous Bougainvillian government and talk to them about their expectations,” she said.

Asked if she was concerned about a resurgence of violence on Bougainville, Ms Bishop said that had always been a possibility.

“Unless the PNG government and the autonomous Bougainvillian government can sort out their differences and work closely together, I think it is going to be a challenge for Australia and New Zealand and other countries who are responsible, if you like, for this part of the world.”

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SEE VIDEO of her interview HERE

Included in this post below are background information on Julie Bishop and her thoughts on Bougainville’s Future  including

What was Julie Bishop saying about Bougainville in 2012 as opposition spokesperson?

Interview with Radio Australia about her Bougainville trip in 2012

Minister Bishop will be joined by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison, Minister for Defence David Johnston and Minister for Justice Michael Keenan.

“The participation of four senior members of the Coalition reflects the strength and depth of the relationship the Australian Government shares with our closest neighbour.” She said

Forum discussions will focus on key areas of bilateral cooperation, including defence and policing cooperation, the implementation of the Regional Resettlement Arrangement, how Australia is assisting PNG to host APEC in 2018, and strengthening PNG’s public service through improved education and training.

Minister Bishop said she  look forward to co-chairing the annual Ministerial Forum Business Dialogue, which enables the business community to discuss with Ministers ways to further strengthen trade and investment links between our two countries.

Following the Ministerial Forum, Minister will travel to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville – the first visit to Bougainville by an Australian Foreign Minister since 2000.

End Press Coverage

Speaking in advance of trip a Bougainville elder had this word of advice for Julie Bishop

“Tell Julie Bishop many of us can understand where she is coming from (from Canberra in Australia) where political correctness is on the lips of politicians. But there are times when politicians are best advised not to come out in public space and view about Bougainville because there are others that will not understand encrypted political messages and even others that will see her as stifling a cause for which people lost their lives.

Sensitivities and knowing what to say, how to say it, when to say it and in the company of who to say it has played a major part in rebuilding Bougainville. It’s challenging and the people of Bougainville will say they don’t need the only LNP women Minister throwing too many spanners into the works in a male dominated work-shop designed and run largely by men. Julie is a friend of Bougainville but she is also Australia’s Foreign Minister.”

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Background

What was Julie Bishop saying about her Bougainville trip in 2012 as opposition spokesperson

See Video Link Bishop and Rudd exchange comments about Bougainville 2012

The range of complex issues surrounding Papua New Guinea’s national election have been widely commented on by Australian media and politicians – some more helpful and diplomatic than others.

In the week before Easter I visited PNG – my second extended visit to the country in the past 9 months – accompanied by Queensland federal colleagues Senator Ian Macdonald, Jane Prentice MP and Ewen Jones MP.

We held discussions with Prime Minister O’Neill, senior members of his Cabinet, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief of the PNG Defence Force, the Police Commissioner and the PNG Election Commissioner, amongst others, on the many and varied challenges associated with the election.

Papua New Guinea is a democracy and as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations is committed to regular parliamentary elections and strong democratic institutions, yet recent political events have been challenging.

Current indications are that the election will be held mid year with hopefully many of the constitutional issues surrounding the composition of the government and a dispute with the judiciary being resolved by PNG voters at the ballot box.

What is less well known is that there is another vote that will take place in the coming years in Bougainville, an autonomous region of PNG, that is potentially of far greater significance to PNG and the broader region than the general election this year.

The Bougainville Peace Agreement signed in 2001 between the PNG Government and the leaders of Bougainville brought a formal end to a civil war that had cost many lives in Bougainville over decades.

Bitter conflicts over land rights, the closure of the mainstay of the local economy in the Panguna mine in the late 1980s and a nascent secession movement has meant that Bougainville has presented a challenge to the fragile nature of PNG nationhood and its politics since PNG independence in 1975.

However, part of the 2001 Agreement, which was brokered in part by the Howard Government, provides for a referendum to be held between 2015 and 2020 on the question of Bougainville’s independence from PNG.

Various conditions must be met prior to the referendum, notably the disposal of weapons currently held in Bougainville and an acceptable standard of governance achieved by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

Put simply, this vote will determine whether Bougainville pushes ahead for full independence or chooses to remain an autonomous region of PNG.

Yet the complexity of the issues in Bougainville, and as between the ABG and PNG, means that as the referendum date draws nearer, Bougainville will again inevitably feature prominently in Australia’s foreign policy considerations.

The process of negotiation between the ABG and PNG is fraught with difficulties as there appear to be deeply entrenched differences over the future of Bougainville, the possibility of reopening the Panguna mine and the direction of economic and social development.

As Anthony Regan, a leading expert on Bougainville, has stated, the starkly different views that are held by Bougainville leaders and the PNG Government, gives rise “to possibilities of conflict over the referendum outcome”.

Aware of the challenges facing Bougainville and the importance of engaging with all relevant parties at the earliest opportunity, our trip to Papua New Guinea included a number of days in Bougainville to gain a deeper understanding of the complex web of cultural, social, economic and political issues that lie at the heart of the referendum question.

During our stay in Buka, we met with leaders of the ABG including President John Momis and Vice-President Patrick Nisira to discuss progress of the peace process, weapons disposal and economic development.

While the 2001 Agreement resulted in the destruction of many weapons used in the civil war, there are fears that a significant number of weapons are still held in the community.

Further, the military ordnance left in southern Bougainville by the United States during the Second World War in the Pacific is an ever present danger.

We made a seven hour round journey by boat and four-wheel drive to Arawa, the pre-civil war capital of Bougainville, to meet with people involved in the reconciliation process including members of the ABG Regional Administration and a representative from the Me’ekamui people, a tribe who had not taken part in the 2001 Agreement.

The reality of the civil war and the bridges that have to be crossed before the referendum can take place were brought home to me in our meeting with former members of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, Sam Kauona and Ishmael Toroama.

Sam Kauona, a Bougainvillean but also an Australian Army trained former PNG Defence Force lieutenant and explosives expert, who became one of the most feared guerrilla fighters in the civil war, told me that he had been “rehabilitated” and that he was now committed to peace and reconciliation.

However he was also deeply committed to an independent Bougainville and he is not alone in his views.

We saw the work funded by Australia’s foreign aid program to improve basic infrastructure across the islands, as well as improving governance, education and health standards. However, the massive challenge of achieving an independent Bougainville should not be underestimated.

Whether the preconditions for the referendum will be met within the timeframe remains to be seen, but this will be a crucial test for the people of Bougainville and the PNG Government.

Australia must be, and be seen to be, deeply committed to the peace and reconciliation process in the lead up to 2015 and beyond.

Interview with Radio Australia 2012

JULIE BISHOP    It is my first visit to Bougainville but it is part of a trip to Papua New Guinea and Bougainville, and I have brought a number of my parliamentary colleagues with me. And we arrived in Buka in Bougainville this morning. We have met with the Vice President and with the Chief Administrator and a number of senior officials. We will be staying overnight this evening and then going to Arawa tomorrow, we will spend another night in Bougainville on Thursday and then return to Papua New Guinea on Friday.

HELENE HOFMAN    Did anything arise from the meetings that you had this morning?

JULIE BISHOP    They have been very significant meetings because I have been given an update about the post conflict challenges in Bougainville. One issue that keeps being raised with me is the weapons disposal programs and the challenges ahead for the autonomous government to try and get the weapons containment under control.

Your listeners will be aware that there is a proposed referendum on independence to be held as part of the Bougainville peace process sometime before 2020, between 2015 and 2020, and one of the issues that must be confronted before the referendum can be held is the weapons disposal. And that is an issue that is really exercised in the minds of those in leadership positions here.

HELENE HOFMAN    And you’re due to meet with President Momis tomorrow, is that something you’ll bring up with him or do you have other issues that are on the agenda?

JULIE BISHOP    I will be meeting with President Momis in the morning. As well as the issue of weapons disposal we will be talking about peace and reconciliation post conflict. I also want to discuss the effectiveness of Australia’s aid program into PNG and Bougainville. I propose discussing with him some of the challenges that Bougainville faces in terms of its budget and the revenues that Bougainville is able to derive, and also some opportunities for opening the Panguna mine again and other mining and resource projects that are being considered here. And we will also talk about other ways to expand the economy and ways that Australia can assist through AusAID and other means.

HELENE HOFMAN    President Momis has repeatedly said he would like to see more Australian aid for Bougainville, what is your stance on that?

JULIE BISHOP    Well that is one of the reasons that I have come here in my capacity as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I want to understand far better the challenges facing the people of Bougainville. And that is why we are spending two and a half, nearly three days here so that we can meet people who are recipients of aid, understand whether it is having the desired impact.

We have met with the Catholic Bishop today, we are now meeting with one of the Sisters, Sister Lorraine’s organisation out here in Chabai, and trying to understand from them what more is needed in terms of support for health, education, as well as infrastructure.

HELENE HOFMAN    Have you had to field any questions about why the Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr hasn’t yet visited the region?

JULIE BISHOP    I have certainly had to field questions in Port Moresby about Senator Carr’s recent comments concerning sanctions on PNG should an election not be held and I have been reassured on many occasions by every level of government in PNG that the national elections will go ahead as constitutionally required.

And so it is unfortunate that Senator Carr made those comments but he has admitted that they were wrong and I would encourage him to visit PNG and Bougainville as soon as he is able.

There is no substitute for actually spending time here. In the last eight months I have spent a week in PNG, I have spent time on the Solomon Islands and now another week in Papua New Guinea and Bougainville.

And so I believe that this region should be Australia’s highest foreign policy priority and that is why I am spending as much time as I am able to do making contact, engaging with people, listening to them and talking about issues of concern.

 

 

 

 

 

Bougainville Mining News: Momis tells PNG PM O’Neill “Panguna mine decision a matter for Bougainville

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“I have today sent a letter to the Prime Minister reminding him that Bougainvilleans are deeply concerned about the future of mining in Bougainville, and determined to control it themselves, through the ABG.

The letter is attached to this statement. DOWNLOAD Momis – O’Neil re MGU Visit – Nov 2014

Download Minutes of meeting Minining Bougainville Minutes Page 1 and 2

MOMIS TO O’NEILL: PANGUNA MINE DECISIONS A MATTER FOR BOUGAINVILLE

President Momis said today that he was deeply concerned that Prime Minister O’Neill wants the National Government to control future mining at Panguna.

On Thursday 9th October the Prime Minister held a three hour meeting with a team form the ‘Me’ekamui Government of Unity’ (‘MGU’). The meeting was arranged by the office of the Member for Central Bougainville, Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro.

The President said that the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has obtained minutes of matters discussed at that meeting, prepared by the ‘MGU’ team. The Minutes (attached to this statement) report the Prime Minister as saying:

Ok Tedi is your model to help you with mining in the future’; and

We have given the Western Province 20% ownership of Ok Tedi’; and

I will give 35% to Bougainville in any mining in the future’.

The President said:  “The Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) states clearly that the main goal of Bougainville’s autonomy is to ‘empower Bougainvilleans to solve their own problems, manage their own affairs and work to realize their aspirations’.

Because of our experience of mining, mining was in the first set of powers that the ABG requested to be transferred from the National Government. “I told him that the idea of the National Government operating mining at Panguna (or anywhere else in Bougainville) is completely unacceptable to Bougainville.

Any attempt by the National Government to control mining in Bougainville could cause Bougainvilleans to lose all faith in the BPA. Many would refuse to work with the National Government any more.

They would want immediate independence. It would be a recipe for undermining, perhaps even destroying, support for the BPA. “I met with the Prime Minister on Friday 3rd October (just six days before your meeting of 9th October) and again on Tuesday 18 November. Both meetings discussed the Prime Minister’s views about Bougainville.

Yet he made no mention in either meeting of the views he expressed to the MGU team on 9th October. “He must explain why he can express such dangerous proposals to the MGU, and refuse to discuss them with me.

Is he trying to divide the people of Bougainville?“If such views were expressed by the Prime Minister, they clearly have serious potential for undermining relationships between the ABG and the National Government.

“In the interests of maintaining a working relationship between your Government and mine, it is essential that the Prime Minister clarify his position on these issues.”

“I have today sent a letter to the Prime Minister reminding him that Bougainvilleans are deeply concerned about the future of mining in Bougainville, and determined to control it themselves, through the ABG. The letter is attached to this statement.

“This meeting was arranged by the office of Mr. Jimmy Miringtoro. The minutes indicate Mr. O’Neill wants the National Government to control mining at Panguna in the same way it manages Ok Tedi.

Other information available to me indicates that the Prime Minister also told the MGU group that the National Government proposes to purchase Rio Tinto’s shares in BCL to allow to control Panguna mining.

 

AUTONOMOUS BOUGAINVILLE GOVERNMENT

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

 

Hon. Peter O’Neil MP                                                                                2 December 2014

Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea

Office of the Prime Minister

Morauta Haus

Waigani, NCD

 

My dear Prime Minister,

I have been advised that on Thursday 9th October you held a three hour meeting with a team form the ‘Me’ekamui Government of Unity’ (‘MGU’), organised through the office of the Member for Central Bougainville, Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro, and attended by his Press Secretary, Mr. Chris Baria. Minutes (two pages) from that meeting, apparently prepared by the ‘MGU’ team, have been provide to my Government. They are attached to this letter.

You will perhaps be aware that this meeting, and the views reported by the ‘MGU’ team to have been expressed by you have caused great consternation to many Bougainvilleans. In the Minutes you are reported as saying:

‘John Momis is going ahead of me with important issues – PNG can’t allow that’.

Issues about ownership of Panguna land and resources, and the future of large-scale mining there, were a focus of the meeting. The Minutes report you as saying:

In this context you are reported as saying that you believe that mining powers and functions have not been validly transferred to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and that the Bougainville Mining (Transitional Arrangements) Act 2014 is invalid.

Ok Tedi is your model to help you with mining in the future’; and

We have given the Western Province 20% ownership of Ok Tedi’; and

I will give 35% to Bougainville in any mining in the future’.

I also understand that you suggested to the MGU group that they should consult with me and my Government about the issues that you discussed with them. While I welcome that advice, I have grave concerns about the above your reported views. Amongst other things:

I understand that in this context you proposed that the National Government purchase shares held by Rio Tinto in BCL and control future mining operations at Panguna, similar to arrangements with Ok Tedi.

Given the various decisions made since January 2008, jointly between the National Government and the ABG (through the Joint Supervisory Body), about the transfer of mining powers to the ABG, and the multiple efforts made by the ABG to consult the National Government about development of the Bougainville Mining (Transitional Arrangements) Act 2014, it would be a matter of the gravest concern if you did in fact express the reported views concerning the transfer of mining powers and the Bougainville Mining (Transitional Arrangements) Act 2014.

There are few issues of greater sensitivity to Bougainvilleans than those concerning the future of mining in Bougainville. A key goal of autonomy recorded in clause 4(b) of the Bougainville Peace Agreement(BPA) is to ‘empower Bougainvilleans to solve their own problems, manage their own affairs and work to realize their aspirations’. In the light of Bougainville’s experience of mining, it is no coincidence that the first set of powers that the ABG requested to be transferred included mining

Bougainvilleans regard it as essential that all decisions about future mining be made by the ABG, on behalf of all Bougainvilleans. The concept of the National Government operating mining at Panguna (or anywhere else in Bougainville) – whether on a basis like Ok Tedi or on any other basis – is completely unacceptable to Bougainville

Any attempt by the National Government to control mining in Bougainville could cause most Bougainvilleans to lose all faith in the BPA, and to refuse to work with the National Government any more. Many would want to seek immediate independence. It would be a recipe for severely undermining, perhaps even destroying, support for the BPA.

I met with you in Port Moresby on Friday 3rd October (just six days before your meeting of 9th October) and again on Tuesday 18 November.

In both meetings our discussion focused on your views about issues concerning Bougainville. Yet you made no mention at all in either meeting of the views you advanced in the meeting on 9th October.

It is difficult for me to understand how you could have been unwilling to discuss with me the views you are reported to have stated to the ‘MGU’ team on such important, sensitive and potentially divisive issues.

If such views were expressed, they have serious potential for undermining relationships between the ABG and the National Government.In the interests of maintaining a working relationship between your Government and mine, it is essential that you clarify your position on the matters raised in this letter, and that you do so as a matter of urgency.  

 

Bougainville “good news” Story: 2014 has been a very progressive year for Central Bougainville

Pic 1

The current government’s free education policy has seen increase in the number enrolments at schools around Central Bougainville. Numbers of schools are also on the increase and this means that more money must continue to put into education every year. Bougainville has missed out on education during the crisis and we have to bridge the gap created when children could not go to school during the troubled period.

What we need is a broader based economy instead of just relying on extractive industries that may run out one day. One of the biggest assets Bougainville has is its people who are creative and innovative. This is why there must be emphasis in putting a lot of money into education.

Picture above : A new classroom building funded by member for Central Bougainville, Jimmy Miringtoro at Raiovi Primary School Wakunai District, Our thanks to Chris Baria for assistance with this article

Good things ahead-On the Sunny Side

This year 2014 has been a very progressive year for Central Bougainville. The region started the year on a positive note with the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill visiting all three regions of Bougainville including Central. During his visit he made a commitment to the people of Bougainville to fund high impact projects, several of which are in Central Bougainville.

Map 2

These are the water and sanitation restoration for Arawa Town, the Aropa Airport re-opening and the other major project is of course the sealing of Bougainville Coastal Trunk from Buka to Buin.

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This is a clear indication of commitment that the National Government with the support our four Bougainville MPs has a strong desire to see the Autonomous Region of Bougainville prosper in the coming years.

We have come a long way since the peace agreement was signed and there is a lot to be done as yet for Bougainville to achieve what was agreed to in the peace process. In Central Bougainville we have devoted a lot of time and money in improving education by providing more classrooms to accommodate ever increasing number enrolments in schools in the bid to bridge the gap left by the Bougainville crisis.

Education is one of the priority sectors that the government is putting money into along with Health, Infrastructure Development, Law and Order and Business Development. Health centers and aid-posts are also receiving funds from my electoral office. The police in Arawa have benefited from a vehicle allocation from the office of Member for Central as part of his community efforts to enhance the law and order sector. Funding has also been made available to the local Business Association as a form of assistance to grow small businesses in Central Bougainville.

Rural Communications Project and Integrated Government Information System (IGIS)

The government has already rolled out a rural communications project. You many have noticed new towers set up in areas that were not formerly serviced by mobile phone network. By the end of 2015 the government hopes that Bougainville will have more than 50% mobile network coverage that will include data, Internet and telephony. By 2016 Bougainville should have 100% mobile network coverage including remote and rural locations, which are not service by roads.

The main aim of the Rural Communications Project is to provide access to telecommunications and other ICT services including TV, internet, FM Radio and Data storage and transmission to rural and remote locations that lack these services.

The government has also established the “integrated government information system” or IGIS for short. This is the forerunner of e-government for Papua New Guinea. Under this ICT infrastructure all government departments and divisions will be interlinked through a computer network, which also has a data bank. This will prevent duplication and enable data and information sharing with ease.

Information can be stored at central location where those who need it and/or if they require it. The Rural Communication Project roll out will establish communication network that will become integrated into IGIS and link up all local level governments with the main government network and data center. This will mean that leaders will have to be more transparent in their work because the people will be able to monitor their performance online through IGIS.

Supporting sustainable development

Papua New Guinea is heavily reliant on logging, minerals, oil and gas for its revenue generation. These industries while they may bring economic boom to a country do have large problems associated with them and for one thing they are non-renewable, and finite and therefore unsustainable. Central Bougainville has had its taste of mining activity during the 70s and 80s.

What we need is a broader based economy instead of just relying on extractive industries that may run out one day. One of the biggest assets Bougainville has is its people who are creative and innovative. This is why there must be emphasis in putting a lot of money into education.

The current government’s free education policy has seen increase in the number enrolments at schools around Central Bougainville. Numbers of schools are also on the increase and this means that more money must continue to put into education every year. Bougainville has missed out on education during the crisis and we have to bridge the gap created when children could not go to school during the troubled period.

Kindles a revolutionary literacy tool in Bougainville schools

In another first for Central Bougainville and in fact Papua New Guinea,James Tanis (former Bougainville President) has established Book-Gain-Ville E reader Revolution in a number of schools in Central Bougainville including Nariana, St. Judes Pok Pok Island, Dareenai Kavearonau and Piruana .

It was launched as  an initiative to improve literacy throughout Bougainville.

Bookgainville.com

Each Kindle can hold up to 1,400 books and by the end of 2014 there will over 50 kindles in 11 Bougainville schools. To date there has been no government support but hopefully in 2015 with the support of Government and NGO’s more schools can get these E reader libraries

See Website for more details or make a donation  http://www.bookgainville.com/

Government Development Priorities

As part of its continuing commitment the National Government development policy covers five development sectors, which are in, line with its Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP). These are also applicable to Bougainville. These sectors are Health, Education, Infrastructure, Law and Order and Small Business. In line with this plan Bougainville MPs have funded a number of health facilities. In Central this includes Manetai and Wakunai Health Centres and a number of village level aid posts in the rural communities.

PiC 3

In the health sector, the office of MP for in Central has also funded ambulances to all major health centres in Central Bougainville. More money has been spent on building classrooms and other school infrastructure to cater for the increase in the number of enrolments over the years.

With regard to infrastructure, considerable amount of money is being used on feeder road maintenance including, for the first time a new road into remote and densely populated area in Paruparu previously inaccessible by road. A considerable level of funds has also allocated to restoration of Aropa Airport, which is about to be opened soon. PNG Power also received funding to provide power to Arawa town, Kieta port and to the new Kieta Distict entre in Toniva. Up to K1million has been committed to the Central Bougainville Business Association to assist small business in the region.

Looking ahead

Pic 5

Children are our future

Lot of work has been done to provide much needed infrastructure such as roads, schools, and of course the soon be reopened Aropa Airport. Services such as health and education continue to more draw more funds from the government through my electoral office and the treasury.

A lot more needs to be done to improve current services and to build more roads and schools. The government is ready to help out in anyway it can. However, there are certain areas where the community can contribute to the development process. For example, in order for feeder roads to last longer, drains need to kept clear of debris and grass has to be cut along the roadside. A little preventive maintenance can make a lot of difference.

Same goes for schools. Parents and community must devote sometime to do maintenance work, cleaning and grass-cutting in the school areas. The community must help to look after what the government has provided for them. The government cannot be expected to do everything. In order for us to move ahead it requires joint effort by all.

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

We welcome your comments (see below)

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

Download Here

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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