Bougainville 2015 Election News : Do you qualify to be Bougainville President or Member of the House ?

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CANDIDATE REQUIREMENTS By JENNIFER NKUI Photo above : Election rolls preparation

Candidates intending to contest in this year’s ABG General Election are urged to consult the qualifying requirements for candidates before contesting in the election.

For details are below

91. QUALIFICATIONS FOR AND DISQUALIFICATIONS FROM ELECTION AS PRESIDENT

56. QUALIFICATIONS FOR AND DISQUALIFICATIONS FROM ELECTION

While issuing this call on Monday, the Acting ABG Electoral Commissioner George Manu stressed that this is to avoid court battles that may arise following the declaration of a candidate that is not qualified to contest in a particular seat.

He said intending candidates must come and check with us so we can advise you on what requirements you must fulfil before you can qualify to contest in the constituency, former combatants, regional women’s and presidential seats.

He then pointed out that according to the ABG Constitution, a member of the House of Representatives must not be less than 25 years of age and candidates intending to stand for election must also be qualified to vote in the elections of the Bougainville House of Representatives.

He added that in order to contest in one of the 33 constituency seats, a candidate must be a Bougainvillean and be a member of a clan lineage that holds land in the constituency for which the candidate wishes to nominate. Mr. Manu went on further saying the candidate must also have been in that constituency for at least five years immediately prior to nomination.

As for the regional seat for women, a candidate will be eligible to contest if she is a Bougainvillean and be a member of a clan lineage that holds land in that particular region that she will be contesting in. He said the woman candidate must also have resided continuously in that region for at least five years immediately prior to nomination.

And for those intending candidates for the three regional seats reserved for the former combatants, the requirement is that they must be a Bougainvillean and a former combatant.

The candidate must also be a member of a clan lineage that holds land in that region that he intends to contest and that he must also have resided continuously in that region for at least five years immediately prior to nomination.

On top of that the acting commissioner stated that the candidate’s nomination must be endorsed by twenty other former combatants from that region.

And in the presidential seat, the candidate must not be less than 40 years of age, is a Bougainvillean and is qualified to vote in the elections of the Bougainville House of Representatives.

According to the Bougainville Constitution, a Bougainvillean is defined as a person; • who is a member (whether by birth or by adoption according to custom by the clan lineage) of a Bougainvillean clan lineage (matrilineal or patrilineal) owning customary land in Bougainville; or • who is married (whether by law or custom) to a person regarded as a Bougainville; or • Who is a child one of whose parents is a Bougainvillean as per the above definition Intending candidates are advised to check with the Assistant Returning Officers or the regional returning officer to get more information on these requirements.

Below is an extract of section 56 of the Constitution of Bougainville that details the qualifications of candidates that are eligible to contest for the constituency, women and former combatants seats.

56. QUALIFICATIONS FOR AND DISQUALIFICATIONS FROM ELECTION.
(1) A member of the House of Representatives must be not less than 25 years of age.

(2) A candidate for election to the House of Representatives must be qualified to vote in elections to the House of Representatives.

(3) A candidate for election to the House of Representatives as a member referred to in Section 55(2)(b)(i) (establishment and composition of the House of Representatives) must be a Bougainvillean and –
(a) be a member of a clan lineage that holds land in the constituency for which he wishes to nominate; or
(b) have resided continuously in that constituency for at least five years immediately prior to nomination; or
(c) have been born in that constituency.

(4) A candidate for election to the House of Representatives under Section
55(2)(b)(ii) (establishment and composition of the House of Representatives) must be a woman and be a Bougainvillean and –
(a) be a member of a clan lineage that holds land in the Region (North, Central or South) of Bougainville for which she intends to nominate; or
(b) have resided continuously in that Region for at least five years immediately prior to nomination.

(5) A candidate for election to the House of Representatives under Section 55 (2)(b)(iii) (establishment and composition of the House of Representatives) must be a Bougainvillean and a former combatant (as that term is defined in Schedule 2 (meaning of certain expressions)) to this Constitution and –
(a) be a member of a clan lineage that holds land in the Region (North, Central or South) of Bougainville for which he intends to nominate; or
(b) have resided continuously in that Region for at least five years immediately prior to nomination,
and have his nomination supported in accordance with Section 58(1)(d) (mode of nomination) of Schedule 10 (electoral provisions relating to the first general election of President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and members of the House of Representatives) or with the Bougainville law referred to in Section 106 (Bougainville Electoral Commissioner and elections generally).

(6) A person is not qualified to be a candidate for election, or to continue to be a candidate for election, referred to in Subsection (3), (4) or (5) if he has nominated in an election to be held at the same time, as a candidate –
(a) referred to in any other of these Subsections; or
(b) for the office of President.

(7) A person is not qualified to be, or to remain a member of the House of Representatives if –
(a) he or she is not entitled to vote in elections to the House of Representatives; or
(b) he or she is of unsound mind within the meaning of any law relating to the person and property of persons of unsound mind; or
(c) subject to Subsections (8) to (11) (inclusive), he or she is under sentence of death or imprisonment for a period exceeding three months; or
(d) he or she has been declared bankrupt by a court of competent jurisdiction and remains bankrupt.

(8) Where a person is under sentence of death or imprisonment for a period exceeding three months, the operation of Subsection (7)(c) is suspended until –
(a) the end of any statutory period allowed for appeals against the conviction or sentence; or
(b) if an appeal is lodged within the period referred to in Paragraph (a), the appeal is determined.

(9) The references in Subsection (8) to appeals and to the statutory period allowed for appeals shall, where there is provision for a series of appeals, be read as references to each appeal and to the statutory period allowed for each appeal.

(10) If a free pardon is granted, a conviction is quashed or a sentence is changed to a sentence of imprisonment for three months or less, or some other form of penalty (other than death) is substituted, the disqualification ceases, and if at the time of the pardon, quashing, change of sentence or substitution of penalty –
(a) the writ for the by-election has been issued – the member is not restored as a member of the House of Representatives and the by-
election proceeds according to law; or
(b) the writ for the by-election has not been issued-the member is restored as a member of the House of Representatives.

(11) In this section –
“appeal” includes any form of judicial appeal or judicial review;
“free pardon” means a free pardon granted under Section 151 (grant of pardon, etc.,) of the National Constitution;
“statutory period allowed for appeals” means a definite period
allowed by law for appeals, whether or not it is capable of
extension, but does not include an extension of such a
definite period granted or that may be granted unless it was granted within that definite period.

(12) Nothing in this section is intended to reduce any right conferred by Section 50 (right to vote and stand for public office) of the National Constitution, but it is the considered opinion of the People of Bougainville, expressed through the Bougainville Constitutional Commission and the Bougainville Constituent Assembly, that any restrictions imposed by this section are reasonable and are reasonably justifiable in a democratic society having a proper regard for the rights and dignity of mankind.

An extract from section 91 of the Bougainville Constitution detailing the eligible criteria for those intending to stand for the presidential seat.

91. QUALIFICATIONS FOR AND DISQUALIFICATIONS FROM ELECTION AS PRESIDENT.
(1) Until a Bougainville law made by an absolute majority vote provides otherwise, a President must be not less than 40 years of age.

(2) A candidate for election as President must be qualified to vote in elections to the House of Representatives.

(3) A candidate for election as President must be a Bougainvillean.

(4) A person is not qualified to stand, or to continue to stand for election as President if –
(a) he is not qualified or becomes disqualified, in accordance with Section 110 (right to vote) to vote in an election to the House of Representatives; or
(b) he is of unsound mind within the meaning of any law relating to the person and property of persons of unsound mind; or
(c) he is under, or becomes subject to, a sentence of death or imprisonment for a period of more than three months; or
(d) he is, or becomes disqualified from standing for election under this Constitution; or
(e) he is, or becomes, a member of, or a candidate for election or appointment to, the National Parliament, or to the House of Representatives; or
(f) he has already been elected as President on two occasions; or
(g) he has been declared bankrupt by a court of competent jurisdiction, and remains bankrupt; or
(h) he has nominated in an election to be held at the same time as a candidate for election as –
(i) a member representing a single member constituency under Section 55(b)(i) (establishment and composition of the House of Representatives); or
(ii) a woman member to represent the interests of women under Section 55(2)(b)(ii) (establishment and composition of the House of Representatives); or
(iii) a former combatant member to represent the interests of former combatant members under Section 55(2)(b)(iii) (establishment and composition of the House of Representatives); or
(i) if the election is an election for President under Section 58(5)(d) (recall of member of the House of Representatives) and the person is the person whose recall is the subject of the poll under Section 58(5)(c) (recall of member of the House of Representatives).

(5) Nothing in Subsection (1) is intended to reduce any right conferred by Section 50 (right to vote and stand for public office) of the National Constitution, but it is the considered opinion of the People of Bougainville expressed through the Bougainville Constitutional Commission and the Bougainville Constituent Assembly, that any restrictions imposed by this section are reasonable and are reasonably justifiable in a democratic society having a proper regard for the rights and dignity of mankind.

 

Bougainville Media News :New Dawn to improve understanding of the Bougainville Peace Agreement

 

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The New Dawn Video Awareness Program project will engage Bougainville’s citizens in a nationwide video-based campaign to improve the country’s understanding of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. Since its establishment in 2001, consultations have continued between the community and the government to ensure parties uphold the Agreement.

This will however, be the first use of audio visual education in these efforts.

Please note : Aloysius Laukai and New Dawn are publishers of this news service

Supported by the PACMAS Innovation Fund, the project developed by New Dawn FM, an independent community radio broadcaster, will produce six educational videos in Tok Pidgin language on Disarming, Referendum and Good Governance – the three pillars of the Peace Agreement.  Other sensitive issues that will also be covered are missing persons, war widows, and government corruption.

The 15 – 30 minute informational videos will be screened across the country, targeting the three district centres of Buka, Arawa, and Buin as well as key rural locations.  The live screenings will provide opportunities for discussions and debates on issues such as gender equality, empowerment of women, good governance and democracy.  Online deliberations will also be encouraged with New Dawn FM sharing the videos on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Typepad.  DVDs, mobile phones, and USBs will also be used for distribution.

Project Overview Working with: New Dawn FM

Start Date: 1 October 2014 – 30 September 2015

Goal: Raise awareness about missing persons, war widows, government corruption and the three pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

Budget: AUD $30,000 –

The outcomes of the New Dawn Video Awareness Program project are:

  • address an island-wide-lack of public understanding of Bougainville’s governance system;
  • bring matters of gender equality, missing persons, and government corruption into the public sphere and promote deliberations of these issues across the country;
  • facilitate the development of New Dawn FM’s video production capacity; and
  • providing opportunities for Bougainvilleans to engage with democracy not just as citizens but also as contributors to the media.

The New Dawn Video Awareness Program activity contributes to Bougainville’s ongoing development of a free and open democracy and aligns with the PACMAS Media Content component, as well as PACMAS’s overall goal of supporting better governance in the Pacific region by contributing to the development of a diverse, independent and professional Pacific media system.

To view the full project profile please click New Dawn Video Awareness Program.

Bougainville News: “Large-scale Mining and Risks of Conflict Recurrence ” new research

 

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Abstract Research on conflict resolution suggests that the significant risk of conflict recurrence in intra-state conflicts is much reduced by political settlements that ‘resolve the issues at stake’ between parties to the conflict, and that in conflicts involving grievances about distribution of natural resource revenues, such settlements should include natural resource wealth-sharing arrangements.

DOWNLOAD: Bougainville :Large-scale Mining and Risks of Conflict Recurrence  here ANU Regan Bougainville Research

Author: Anthony J. Regan (see Bio Below)

This article shows that the Bougainville conflict origins involved far more complexity than natural resource revenue distribution grievances, and that the conflict itself then generated new sources of division and conflict, the same being true of both the peace process and the process to implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA).

As a result, the BPA addresses many more issues than natural resource-related grievances. Such considerations make it difficult to attribute lack of conflict recurrence to particular factors in the BPA.

While the BPA provisions on wealth-sharing address relations between the Papua New Guinea National Government and Bougainville, moves by the Autonomous Bougainville Government to explore possible resumption of large-scale mining has generated a new political economy in Bougainville, contributing to new tensions amongst Bougainvilleans.

Research Conclusion

On the basis of this case study of Bougainville, I conclude that natural resource distribution issues were a significant factor, amongst many others, in the origins of the conflict. In addition, it was a factor that aggravated many other factors.

Moreover, many other divisions, sources of conflict and actual conflicts developed as a consequence of the dynamics of not only the conflict itself, but also of the peace process, and the process of implementing the BPA. Indeed, the tensions developing over mining related issues since 2005 are emerging as part of the dynamics generated by implementing the BPA.

These are largely tensions internal to Bougainville. As a result, there is limited utility in the natural resource revenue distribution arrangements in the BPA, developed mainly to respond to the contribution of natural resource distribution issues to conflict between Bougainville and PNG. On the other hand, natural resource distributions certainly were a significant source of conflict both between PNG and Bougainville, and amongst Bougainvilleans.

It was entirely reasonable for those negotiating for the BPA to include provisions intended to respond to the issues that had divided PNG and Bougainville in the 1980s, by giving the ABG power to determine mining policy and law for Bougainville, and to receive the major part of mining revenues. But it was too difficult for them to tailor arrangements in 2001 that could realistically respond to natural resource distribution issues that had divided Bougainvilleans in the 1980s (mainly issues related to the inequitable distribution of the limited natural resources revenues then available to Bougainvilleans).

In giving effect to its new right to make mining policy and law, the ABG has inadvertently helped generate a new political economy in Bougainville, where new outside interests in alliances with significant Bougainvillean interests, are engaging in a struggle for a significant degree of control over resource revenues and mining powers. These developments have ensured that the main divisive issues relating to natural resource distribution are no longer between PNG and Bougainville, but are instead between Bougainvilleans (as even the outside interests have no leverage without Bougainville partners).

The Bougainvillean negotiators for BPA did not include provision on dealing with such new sources of internal Bougainville tensions related to natural resource distribution, not only because they were not anticipated, but also because it would have been virtually impossible to do that at the time.

Rather, their key assumption was that by establishing a strong and legitimate autonomous government, thereby empowering “Bougainvilleans to solve their own problems, manage their own affairs and realize their own aspirations”, and with “sufficient personnel and financial resources … to exercise its powers and functions effectively”,41 there would be a Bougainville government body capable of developing policy broadly acceptable to all interests, and of dealing with disputes between Bougainville interests when they do arise.

But at present, the ABG still has limited capacity, and developing appropriate mining policy and law takes time and resources, and implementing it effectively takes more. Some of those attacking the ABG have strong interests in the ABG remaining weak. Their increasingly strident attacks on the ABG are being made for the clear purpose of getting control of revenue and power.

There is a real political and economic struggle taking place, and the eventual outcomes are as yet far from clear. One irony here is that the ABG is seeking mining revenue in order to build the capacity needed to achieve either real autonomy or independence, when there are now risks of serious tensions and disunity that could undermine Bougainville’s prospects for achieving either goal. There are particular risks here given the ongoing presence of armed factions in Bougainville. In these circumstances, there is an urgent need for the international community and the activist community to recognise where the real tensions and dangers of conflict lie.

Whilst the current tensions concerning natural resource distribution are mainly within Bougainville, there are still possible sources of dispute between PNG and Bougainville. One concerns possible difficulties in negotiating distribution of mining and other tax revenues additional to the recurrent grant should any future large-scale mining project result in those revenues being sustainably higher than the amount of the grant. In relation to issues about the Panguna mine’s future, tensions could arise over various issues if in fact BCL were to be permitted to return, including over any move by PNG to expropriate Rio Tinto’s majority equity in BCL, and over any difference that might occur over the ABG’s entitlement to have the PNG 19.3 per cent equity transferred.

Turning, finally, to the risk of conflict recurrence in Bougainville, we can clearly set to one side the BPA provisions on mining. The real questions now concern whether a strong and legitimate ABG can emerge that can manage the many sources of tension and conflict inherent in the circumstances of post-conflict Bougainville, including those internal tensions concerning mining.

The difficulties for the ABG in managing such tensions are not small. They include, in particular, the situation of marginalised youth, as we have seen, in so many ways so similar to the situation in Bougainville in the late 1980s. The history of the conflict from 1988 demonstrates that sources of anger in such a significant marginalised group can be unleashed in unexpected ways, especially where contributed to, or aggravated, by natural resource distribution issues. Discussing two natural resource related insurgencies in Nigeria, political geographer Michael J. Watts said:

The energies unleashed among a generation of marginalized youth is astonishing; the reservoirs of anger is [sic] now very deep having been filled by the waters of resentment over many decades. That the resentments can and have been channelled into all manner of claims, aspirations and practices (complex mixtures of greed and grievance) the borders among which are labile and porous should surprise nobody.

If the struggle over control of mining in Bougainville continues, without the ABG’s authority being accepted, the outcomes will be unpredictable. All points of tension and conflict involved in or arising from this struggle are likely to be intensified by the approach of first, the ABG general election, and second the referendum on independence, and by the intersections between the political and economic struggles associated with those processes, on the one hand, with the struggles over mining.

 

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About the Author Anthony Regan is a constitutional lawyer who specialises in constitutional development as part of conflict resolution. He has worked as a lawyer, policy adviser and researcher in Papua New Guinea for over thirty years, and is currently a Fellow with the State, Society and Melanesia program at the Australian National University. Formerly an adviser to Bougainville parties during the Bougainville peace process, Anthony is now an adviser to the Autonomous Government of Bougainville. anthony.regan@anu.edu.au

 

Bougainville Panguna News : President Momis in depth response to controversial Jubilee report

President Momis

 

Members of the Board and Academic Advisory Board 24 October 2014

Dear Board Member,

I refer to my letter of 20th September 2014 expressing concerns about Jubilee Australia’s report, ‘Voices of Bougainville’. Almost five weeks have elapsed, and I’m yet to receive even an acknowledgment of my letter, let alone a considered response.

On the other hand, there have been several public statements made about the report. Some were made by Jubilee CEO, Ms. Brynnie Goodwill, both in advance of, and since, my letter. Others were made only after my letter, by Jubilee Board Chair, Luke Fletcher, and by Kristian Lasslett (an academic who acknowledges overseeing preparation of the report). In this letter I raise grave concerns about misleading statements made in those statements, and raise issues about aspects of the report additional to those raised in my earlier letter.

Jubilee’s Condescending Public Response

See printed version here Jubilee Australia_Board Response to President Momis

I have general concerns about the remarkably condescending nature of the position taken by the Chair of the Jubilee Board, Luke Fletcher, in his comments reported on Radio Australia on 2nd October.

First he claimed that ‘some of the comments on the report may reflect people who perhaps didn’t read it carefully enough, in terms of some of the criticism that have been made’. In the context this appears to refer to my assertion that the report claimed to represent views of ‘mine-affected communities’, and not merely the few people interviewed. I can assure Mr. Fletcher that I have read the report with great care. As he challenges my assertions in regard to what the report claims, I have little choice but to set out clearly for him (and for Mr. Lasslett, who made much the same comment), in the next part of this letter, exactly what the report says as to it representing the views of the mine-affected communities.

Second, Mr. Fletcher said that Jubilee will carefully consider the criticisms of the report. But by also saying that it’s ‘very unlikely’ that the report will be ‘withdrawn’, he made it quite clear that Jubilee had essentially pre-judged the issues involved. To me, it’s like a court announcing publicly before a criminal trial that it will consider the evidence seriously, but it’s ‘very unlikely’ the defendant could be innocent.

Jubilee’s Claim that Report Represent only the Views of those Interviewed

In my letter of 20th September, a key concern was that the report claimed that interviews with 65 people (and a ‘focus group’ of 17 others) represented the views of the 10,000 or more people of the former Panguna mine lease areas. I vigorously disputed that claim.

Fletcher responded by saying: ‘The report stated a number of times it represented only the people in Panguna who were consulted in the study’ (Post Courier, 8/10/2014). Fletcher was ‘echoing’ Lasslett, who said: ‘The report never claims to speak on behalf of Bougainvilleans. It only claims to have presented the views relayed by 65 interviewees’ (see his response to a critique by Dr. Don Mitchell: http://ramumine.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/momis-makes-a-predictable-attack-on-voices-of-bougainville-report/).

It’s true that at some points the report does state that it records views expressed by interviewees (mainly in sections dealing with ‘research findings’ derived from interviews).

But in fact the report makes far grander claims. Significantly, such claims appear mainly in sections discussing research goals (under the heading ‘Addressing Gaps in Knowledge’) and conclusions. Frequent and explicit statements are made that the report represents views of the people of the ‘mine-affected areas’, or ‘mine-affected communities’, or ‘stakeholders … affected by the Panguna mine’.

Given the limited understanding that those involved in overseeing preparation of the report evidently have about many aspects of contemporary Bougainville, it may assist the Board if I explain what the term ‘mine-affected areas’ means in Bougainville. It covers a swathe of land areas once covered by mining tenements held by BCL (though recently done away with by the ABG Mining (Transitional Arrangements) Act), or land leases associated with the Panguna mine. These include:

 The three main former ‘leases for mining purposes’, namely:

o the Loloho lease, used for port facilities, power station and a recreation area;

o the Port-Mine-Access Road lease; and

o the Tailings lease, and

 the former Special Mining Lease; and

 the Siokate Lease, involving Arawa Village land used for part of Arawa Town.

The term also includes large areas adjacent to those former leases that were also affected by mine. These include an extended area south and north of the main leases on the western side of the mountains, where landowners received compensation from BCL for loss of fish in creeks and rivers that feed into the Kawerong and Jaba rivers.

The people of all of these areas are represented by the nine landowner associations mentioned in the Jubilee Report (p.6). It is estimated that well over 10,000 people live in the areas covered by the former BCL tenements and the Siokate lease, and several thousand more live in the area where many once received fish compensation, and now covered by the Bolave Fish Owners Association (one of the nine landowner associations).

Under the heading ‘Addressing Gaps in Knowledge’, the report talks of ‘this study’s systematic attempt to record the views of those living in the mine affected areas’ (emphasis added). It goes on to say that ‘this study was undertaken in order to empirically gauge the feelings of the mine-affected communities towards current plans to reopen the mine’ (emphasis added). The report states that important questions associated with that major goal include examining: ‘To what extent have communities been adequately engaged with, and consulted’ and whether ‘they’ (i.e. ‘communities’) ‘want the mine to reopen’ and so on (p.17). Very clearly, the report aims to draw conclusions from the research as to what ‘mine-affected communities’ (not just those interviewed) believe about the future of mining.

Similarly, in the ‘Appendix: Research Methodology’, under the heading ‘Aims and Objectives’, the report discusses research aims as recording ‘perceptions’, ‘experiences’, and ‘understandings’ of the ‘community’ and of ‘mine-affected communities’ (p.48).

At page 46, under the heading ‘Conclusion’, the report states that it is presenting ‘a number of preliminary observations about the views of the mine-affected communities’ (emphasis added):

 ‘First, and most importantly, the stakeholders who have been most affected by the Panguna mine and subsequent conflict, are at present staunchly opposed to any discussion of the mine’s reopening’ (emphasis added);

 In relation to the second observation, that ‘people we spoke to were deeply critical of the mine consultation process’, the report draws a conclusion that ‘any attempt to reopen the mine in the present environment would almost certainly be received by most in the landowning community as illegitimate’ (emphasis added);

 The third observation is that ‘the people of Panguna have developed a sophisticated understanding of the actors involved in the conflict’, an observation which while expressed to be based on the views of ‘the people who have been consulted in this study’ is clearly stated to be a conclusion applying far beyond just those people (emphasis added);

 The fourth observation concerns the view of ‘those who participated in this study’ on the need to consider alternatives to industrial scale mining. But the report goes on to say: ‘These are the deeply held views of large sections of the mine-affected communities, and cannot be simply dismissed as an outside agenda, or as materially infeasible’. The report then takes a stronger stance on the extent to which such views are held, stating that ‘the mine-affected communities would like to see a modality of development take place that they control … (emphasis added).

In a sub-section of the Conclusion headed ‘Connecting the Past and the Future’, after several paragraphs that do refer to the views of the people spoken to, the report says: ‘The people of Panguna clearly say that, unlike in the past, they would like a say in how they control natural resources of the land in which they live’, which ‘would appear to preclude the sort of industrial scale operations that the ABG appears to have in mind… (emphasis added) (p.46).

There seems little doubt as to what Jubilee believed, at least initially, as to the views of those interviewed in fact representing the views of many others. Jubilee chief executive, Ms. Brynnie Goodwill, is reported as having said in a discussion of the report and its findings on Radio New Zealand on 17 September, before any public criticism had been made of the report:

 ‘Currently there is near unanimity among the Pangunans that they do not want mining in their region’ (‘Pangunan’ is not a term used in Bougainville);

 ’I think that what has been loudly said by the Panguna communities is that other opportunities need to be explored …;

 ‘So I think what the Pangunan communities are saying is that many more issues need to be addressed first and foremost…,

(emphasis added).

Not only does the report reach conclusions about what ‘mine-affected communities’ want, but it records conclusions about what the relevant views of those communities ‘preclude’, in terms of ABG policy!

I was undoubtedly the most outspoken critic of the report prior to 2nd October, when Mr. Fletcher made comments on Radio Australia on 2nd October concerning criticisms made of the report. As noted already, responses from both Fletcher and Lasslett attacked assertions that the report claims to represent mine-affected communities. In the context, I must assume that Fletcher’s remarks about critics not having read the report ‘carefully enough’ were at least in part directed at me.

In circumstances where the aims and concluding sections of the report are so clearly expressed as broadly representative, I am compelled to seek an explanation for his response, which is not only condescending, but also false. Of course, I do not suggest Mr. Fletcher or Mr. Lasslett have been deliberately dishonest in their responses on this issue. Is it they, perhaps, that have not read their report carefully enough? If not, what other explanation could there be?

Representation of Voices not Heard

The report makes much of the claim that it ‘endeavours to relay voices from mine-affected communities in Bougainville, voices that have been distant from recent public discussions surrounding the mine’ (p.5). Ms. Goodwill is quoted as saying the report was intended to ‘support the airing of voices of mine-affected communities …and to ensure those voices could become part of a broader discussion and debate.’ (Helen Davidson, Guardian Australia, 1st October 2014).

Not only does Jubilee imply that it is breaking remarkable new ground by revealing opposition to mining, but there is also a strong implication that such voices have been excluded from debates on the subject. There is absolutely no basis for such views.

It is absolutely no surprise that there Bougainvilleans, especially in the mine-affected areas, that oppose resumption of mining at Panguna. Their views are well-known, well-understood, well-respected, and accepted. Those who support resumption of mining are not trying to suppress such views, for invariably they too have deep concerns about, and make strong criticisms of, mining, especially (though not only) in relation to the way it was conducted at Panguna from the late 1960s.

There is no exclusion, however, of anti-mining views from debate on the future of mining in Bougainville. If you or your researchers had engaged with the ABG or the executives of the landowner associations, you could have heard much more about the role of such voices in the ongoing debates. At the various public forums on the future of mining, vigorous debate has always included voices strongly opposed to mining. Such voices have been welcomed, and listened to with care.

For example, at the two day Women’s Forum on the future of mining, held in Buka in March this year, over 200 women attended. They were selected not by the ABG, but rather by a wide range of women’s organisations. After a day of general discussion, involving a multiplicity of voices, some strongly opposed to mining, they broke into their district groupings to discuss their views. In the report-back session at the end of the second day, of the 13 district groups all but one reported support for resumption of mining at Panguna, subject to strict conditions. Panguna district was amongst those in support. The exception (where mining was opposed) was Kunua District, on the north-west coast. No pressure was applied to any individual or group to support or to oppose resumption of mining.

Again, it’s not surprising that there are some Bougainvilleans who hold negative views of the consultation processes conducted by the ABG and landowner associations. Part of the problem concerns access difficulties arising from such things as scattered settlement patterns, limited transport, limits on access to some mine-affected communities resulting from the armed Me’ekamui roadblock at the Morgan Junction, and the limited financial resources available under the ABG budget. But to suggest that those few views about the consultation processes are representative of ‘most in the landowning community’ (Report, p.47) is deeply misleading.

The ABG is a government committed to consultation and to listening. We are not squashing any voice. We welcome the contributions of those who oppose mining. The strong opposite implication in your report is unjustified and unfair.

Fear and Trepidation on the Part of Interviewees

Mr. Fletcher is reported as saying that Jubilee’s decision not to talk to the ABG or Landowner associations ‘was deliberate’. As there was no communication of any kind with us at any point from initial planning through to public release of the report, he clearly believes that to communicate with us in any way at all and at any stage may have made it difficult for landowners ‘to feel comfortable’. It seems that the only option for Jubilee was total secrecy! Accordingly, Fletcher says, it was ‘a deliberate strategy to try and come in as independent and not be perceived and to be part any particular agenda’. This approach, he says, was demonstrated to be needed because some people ‘wouldn’t have spoken to us if we were allied with these groups’ (Radio Australia interview, 2 October 2014).

The clear implication here goes beyond suggesting that opponents of mining are excluded from debate. The suggestion is that they must also live in in fear of the ABG or the landowner associations should they express views contrary to mining. That is simply not the case. In all the extensive public consultation about mining conducted by the ABG and landowner associations, all voices are encouraged and supported to speak out. Read the daily newspapers, listen to the two main radio services, look at social media (such as the Facebook Bougainville Forum), and you will find many contributions to the debate on the future of mining coming from opponents to mining. These contributors freely provide their names, clearly not feeling any fear of retribution for their actions. There is absolutely no sense of this reality portrayed in the report, with its suggestions of the need for secrecy.

Given the limited contact that some people in parts of the Panguna area have with the outside world, it’s no surprise that some might express concern about researchers not being independent. But being in communication with the ABG is not the same as being allied to it. Surely independence can be demonstrated by means other than having no communication of any kind, or at any time, with the ABG or the landowner associations? Many other researchers work in Bougainville, and remain independent, whilst at the same time maintaining communication with us. At the very least, Jubilee could have been in contact with the ABG after the interviews had been done. 6

The ABG and the landowner associations are significant stakeholders, and as such at the very least a draft of the report could have been provided to us. We may even have assisted you with information that reduced the factual errors and significant mis-representations that litter the report.

Frankly, the most likely explanation of your failure to have any contact with the ABG and the landowners associations seems to be completely unfounded assumptions made by those involved in overseeing development of the report about voices opposed to mining being excluded or suppressed by the ABG.

Research Methodology

In addition to the critique of the methodology used in the research that I made in my earlier letter, I note that providing key stakeholders an opportunity to comment on a draft report before it is released is usually part of appropriate and robust research methodology. Jubilee’s failure to follow this quite standard approach is yet another grave weakness in methodology.

Second, I request Jubilee to consider the critiques of Jubilee’s research methodology made by Dr. Don Mitchell (above) and also by Joanne Wallis on the Dev Policy Blog on 3rd October (http://devpolicy.org/the-dangers-of-development-ngos-sacrificing-accuracy-for-advocacy-20141003/).

I emphasise again my deep concern that the actual interview questions asked of the interviewees have not been provided as part of the report. Dr. Mitchell quite rightly said: ‘I’m sure I could go back to Nagovisi …and create a series of questions to get pretty much any response I wanted to. Anybody could …It’s not difficult; it has to do with the nature of the questions and the way that they’re asked, as well as of whom they are asked. It’s basic research design, and research reports that do not divulge the questions cannot be taken seriously’.

In that connection, I draw your attention to issues about the broad ‘research questions’ which were the focus of the research (see p.17 and p.50). Were the interview questions asked in the same order as those broader research questions (listed on p.50)? If so, that involved taking interviewees through discussion of first, their concerns about and/or experience of the mine and the conflict, and only then asking their views on re-opening of the mine. As I presume you are aware, the ordering of the subjects discussed could alone have a significant impact on answers about re-opening the mine. (As Dr. Mitchell says of interview questions, ‘the way that they’re asked is critically important’.) Anyone conducting even a basis public opinion survey is well aware of the need to avoid such problems.

The report states that there was ‘a list of questions and main topics for the interviewers to draw on and use as guides to orient the interviews’ (p.49).

If this report is to have any credibility, it is essential not only that the list of questions asked, but also the order in which they were asked, be revealed.

Who Did the Research?

Dr. Mitchell also asked: ’Who did the data analysis? Were any of the fieldworkers social scientists?’. When Lasslett defended what had been done, Mitchell commented further: ‘I didn’t see the names and credentials of the researchers. I think that is important. Can you tell me why that is? Field research isn’t something just anybody can do, or, putting it another way, even a first rate researcher’s skill set might not be appropriate to a particular research setting. I’d like to know whether the two researchers were social scientists, whether they had advanced training ..’. I concur with Dr. Mitchell.

Similarly, in answering criticism of the Report, Mr. Fletcher states that even though Jubilee will look at comments made, it ‘is very unlikely’ that the Report will be withdrawn. He advances what he calls a ‘particular reason’ for that view: ‘…that the people who were involved in this report are all very highly qualified academics and all the questions that are being raised about the report are questions we had with ourselves and very deeply before we released it’. Lasslett ‘echoes’ Fletcher in his response to Don Mitchell.

These points do not advance Jubilee’s cause. The claim that ‘highly qualified academics’ were involved means little when their names are not provided. Moreover, as Mitchell notes, even the best researchers may not be well qualified for particular tasks. Please advise us who they were.

Finally, the argument advanced by both Fletcher and Lasslett that those involved in the research asked themselves questions similar to the criticisms now being made in no way answers the criticisms. If those questions were in fact asked by Jubilee, then it seems clear that its answers were, at best, somewhat flawed.

Jubilee’s Collaborators

In my earlier letter I commented upon Jubilee having collaborated in this research with organisations ‘vehemently opposed to large-scale mining and to the ABG’s mining policy’ (namely Bismarck Ramu Group – BRG – and International State Crime Initiative – ISCI). Mr. Fletcher responds by saying that Jubilee has ‘found them to be thoroughly professional’ (PNG Post Courier, 8/10/2014).

Perhaps Mr. Fletcher has not had the opportunity to examine the remarkable range of utterly unsubstantiated, deeply unfair and unbalanced, and often quite inflammatory and divisive attacks on the ABG, on me, and on advisers to the ABG, made on the BRG Blog, PNG Mine Watch. These attacks are part of a concerted campaign mounted against the ABG since about February 2013, in relation to its efforts to develop an appropriate mining policy for Bougainville. Significantly, most attacks on the Blog are anonymous.

Should Jubilee Board members not be familiar with it, the link to Bougainville material on the PNG Mine Watch Blog is https://ramumine.wordpress.com/tag/bougainville/.

Perhaps Mr. Fletcher is also unaware of the wide range of contributions by Lasslett on various forms of social media, again since early 2013. Lasslett is apparently well-intentioned, He is articulate, writes well, and is able to debate issues well. He often puts well-reasoned positions, and can make positive contributions to debates. But he is cocooned in a particular view of Bougainville’s history, one he shares with a small group of others, and which shapes all his views on Bougainville.

He is focused on what he sees as not only the single worst set of wrongs that has occurred in Bougainville – namely actions of Rio Tinto/BCL in the 1988-1990 period – but also the imperative to hold Rio Tinto/BCL to account for such wrongs. In his view, Rio Tinto/BCL can have no place in contemporary Bougainville without first being held to account. Should we Bougainvilleans (or the government Bougainvilleans elected to represent them) foolishly decide otherwise, he would seek to save us from our misguided course.

Yet his is at best a highly contested view not only of our complex history (despite his claims to the contrary), but also of the way the difficult and complex problems and issues we face should be dealt with. But it is clearly very much his particular analysis that informs the ‘historical’ account in the Jubilee report, at pp.7 to 16.

Contributions by Lasslett to ongoing debates can be found on the PNG Mine Watch Blog (above), the PNG Exposed Blog (http://pngexposed.wordpress.com/tag/bougainville/) Bougainville Forum, (https://www.facebook.com/index.php#!/groups/bougainvilleforum/), the ‘closed’ Facebook group, Mind, Body and Spirit Bougainville (see https://www.facebook.com/groups/mbsbougainville/).

While his ability to understand contemporary Bougainville is severely restricted by the position he takes on Rio Tinto/BCL, Lasslett often presents his position reasonably. There are, however, a few instances where he too makes unsubstantiated and false allegations. One example involves those made in an April 2013 article rejected by Crikey, after the editor was advised that a number of false allegations against ABG advisers made in the article were defamatory. Much the same allegations had been made to SBS television a few days earlier, but the story was not taken up when the lack of factual basis was explained to SBS. A version of the article rejected by Crikey, with a few of the most baseless allegations modified, was published a few days later by New Matilda (though it still made baseless allegations against ABG advisers (see https://newmatilda.com/2013/04/23/ausaid-fuels-bougainville-mining-tensions). Unlike Crikey, the New Matilda editor at the time failed to provide any pre-publication opportunity to refute the allegations made. It’s interesting that remarkably similar allegations are amongst those regularly made in the anonymous attacks on the ABG in the PNG Mine Watch and PNG Exposed Blogs.

Perhaps the most serious issue here is not so much the ongoing grossly unfair campaign against the ABG, but more that those involved (Lasslett, BRG, the moderators of PNG Mine Watch Blog, the anonymous author(s) of the attacks on the Blog, etc.) have never put any of their allegations to me, the ABG or the advisers that they are attacking. They never check the facts, which seem to be phenomena irrelevant to their purpose.

Let me be clear: there has been absolutely no contact with me, the ABG, nor the relevant ABG advisers by not only Lasslett, but also the anonymous attackers on the BRG website, and those administering the BRG Blog. Is this really the track record of ‘professional organisations’?

A Skewed Historical Account

The historical account advanced in the report, pp.8-16, is highly selective and unbalanced, and in parts quite incorrect, often reflecting the BRG and Lasslett view of Bougainville. Amongst many problems in that account, I mention just a few.

The claim is made that the New Panguna Landowner Association executive elected in 1987 ‘opposed the mine’ (p.9), and that the BRA demanded ‘the mine’s permanent closure’ (p.10), and that any view to the contrary – such as those advanced by me in a 2010 speech ‘contradict the archival material on Ona’s position with respect to the mine’ (p.14). As a person who attended the 1987 meeting where the new executive was elected, who remained in communication with the new executive for a considerable period thereafter, and who personally discussed with Francis Ona his views about the future of the mine as late as June 1997, I assure you from my personal knowledge that the report’s assertions on this issue are quite wrong. If Lasslett had ever troubled to interview me, I could have provided him with personal, as opposed to archival, evidence about Ona’s views, and advised him of the names of key ‘founders’ of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, and others, whom I am confident would substantiate my views in this regard.

The claims on pages 10 to 11 concerning BCL’s roles in the early period of the conflict are a muted version of claims Lasslett advances elsewhere. I can state from my personal knowledge as a Cabinet minister at the time, that in many respects his view of what happened is quite unbalanced. To give just one example, the report talks of BCL’s request for police mobile squad units being made on 26 November (p.9), failing to mention that the North Solons Provincial Government also made that request, and that the National Government strongly supported the request, and had its own strong reasons for doing so. Neither government was in any way bowing to pressure from BCL.

There are many other factual errors in the relevant pages, as well as in other parts of the report. Some of the major ones are mentioned elsewhere in this letter. But there are many more.

Using the Historical Account to Substantiate Baseless ‘Research Findings’

Perhaps the greater concern about the skewed historical account is what is perhaps best described as a ‘sly’ approach to using it to provide some substance to otherwise baseless allegations attributed to interviewees in the latter part of the report.

For example, it’s reported that the ‘majority of interviewees (49 out of 53) expressed dissatisfaction with what they saw as the illegitimate role of Australia (though AusAID) in the peacebuilding and consultation processes … There was strong disapproval of the perceived interference of the Austrian Government or AusAID in both the past and present of Bougainville’ (p.37). No indication is provided in the report’s discussion of what interviewees said constituted the ‘illegitimate role’ or the ‘perceived interference’. In the absence of such material, the reader would expect to look to the earlier historical account. And there it is, in the discussion of ‘The Consultation Process’ (about the future of mining): ‘The Australian government has assisted UPMALA and the ABG through the provision of advisors, paid for out of Australia’s foreign aid budget, for the development of a new mining bill, and in the process of community consultations surrounding the mine’ (p.16).

Of course, this fits so neatly with the endless allegations about the role of Australia and of Australian advisers in Bougainville advanced by Lasslett and the anonymous contributors to the Mine Watch Blog that it seems most unlikely that there is no connection here. To my mind, this reflects bias.

Yet the notion that provision of advisers, in accordance with ABG requests, is in fact ‘illegitimate’ or constitutes ‘interference’, must be challenged. There is a deep paternalism – even racism – involved. It is clear that those who constantly advance such views assume that Australian funded advisers necessarily act only in the interests of Australia, and are somehow (in a manner never defined) readily able to bend the ABG to their wills. That advisers could be provided without being controlled by or answerable to Australia, or that they could be professional and independent, and might act only in accordance with ABG direction, is clearly inconceivable to Lasslett and the BRG. Lasslett, also exhibits a ‘holier than thou’ attitude in his criticisms of advisers, regularly reporting how much he is opposed to those in the pay of foreign, working as consultants, all of whom are tainted in his purist view of the world. It is his particular, somewhat warped, and certainly biased, view of Bougainville that has clearly influenced the content of the Jubilee report.

Inaccuracies Advanced as ‘Research Findings’, Without Qualification

Many positions on issues claimed in the report as advanced by interviewees are grossly inaccurate. The report advances them without qualification, implying that they are in fact accurate. The result is presentation of a seriously flawed picture. Moreover, the material derived from interviews is presented under the general heading of ‘Research Findings’, a term that seems intended to convey substance in what is discussed.

In the interests of shortening this letter, I’ll provide examples from just the first three pages of the 25 pages of ‘Research Findings’ (pp.20-45). However, similar problems exist with many of the following pages:

 Apparently summarising views expressed in interviews, the report claims that (at the time the Panguna mine was being established) ‘the introduction of ‘land titles’ and individual male ‘land title owners’ who later formed the old landowners association (PLA), was denounced by some interviewees’ (p.20). That is a profoundly inaccurate picture of what in fact occurred. From 1969 to 1974, the Land Titles Commission (LTC) held public hearings in relation to each piece of customary land within mine related tenements or leases. This exercise did not involve ‘introduction of land titles’. Rather, the LTC files for the period show clearly that, on the basis of the evidence presented at each public hearing, the LTC determined: the boundaries of the piece of land in question; which clan lineage, descended from a named ancestor, owned that land; and the member of the lineage who should be recognised as the ‘customary head’ of the lineage (for the purposes of receiving and distributing rents, compensation and royalties, payable in respect of the land). ‘Customary heads’ were not all males – many were females. As males are members, together with their mothers, aunts and sisters (and sister’s children), of matrilineal clan lineages, it was often in order for a male to be recorded as ‘customary head’. At some point, and for reasons that are not yet clear, the term ‘title holder’ became used instead of ‘customary head’. While use of the former term may have contributed to some confusion about ‘titles’, it introduction of land titles was not involved.

 An interviewee is recorded as saying: ‘Another big issue was to do with the title holders …our leaders gave the land to their children while it should have been given to the women’ (p.20). This too is incorrect. LTC files show that when a ‘customary head’ died (something that occurred as early as 1970 in relation to a few pieces of land previously dealt with in early LTC hearings), fresh LTC hearings were held, and a new ‘customary head’ was appointed. In a few instances, a child of a deceased ‘customary head’ (and so not a member of the deceased person’s clan) was designated as the new ‘customary head’. But this occurred only where the LTC had received satisfactory evidence that the appropriate customary arrangements had been made between the clan lineages concerned, before the death of the ‘customary head’ – for example, kirinula in the case of Nasioi landowning clan lineages.

 An interviewee is recorded as saying: ‘There was this problem with BCL using other people to sign on behalf of the true landowners’ (p.20). In fact, BCL played no role in the processes for determining boundaries, ownership and ‘customary heads’ of land. That was all handled by the colonial administration (to 1975), mainly through the LTC and the kiaps. BCL was required, by law, to make payments to those identified by the LTC as ‘customary heads’. It is true that there were disputes about whether a few of the ‘customary heads’ were really entitled to be designated as such, but such problems were not the fault of BCL.

 Experience of the period of mine operation was ‘a negative one’, with only one respondent suggesting any positives (p.21). Many in the mine-affected communities are clear that while there were many major negatives for many there were also at least as few important positives, many mentioning BCL’s training.

 An interviewee is recorded as saying: ‘Only those who had landowner titles were getting benefits’ (p.22). That is completely incorrect. ‘Customary heads’ recognised by the LTC were expected to distribute rents, compensation and royalties to members of the lineage. In the absence of not only genealogies (or social mapping), but also clear customary principles for distribution of money from such sources, problems did occur in some cases. But in many cases, ‘customary heads’ were regarded by clan lineage members as doing a good job.

Clearly, no attempt was made by those overseeing preparation of the report to sift inaccurate opinions from ones based on fact.

A partial explanation for the presence of such inaccuracy may be provided in footnote 104 (p.20). It states that interviewees ‘were specifically asked to talk about their ancestors’ general living conditions during the mine’, and that those interviewees not born at the time in question ‘answered these questions based on personal knowledge of what they had heard from other community and family members’. Because views of such younger interviewees ‘cohered with what other, older participants …recalled’, the report records that the analysis does not separate answers of youth from those of adults and elders.

This explanation suggests, however, little interest in accuracy. Interviewees have been ‘specifically asked’ to talk of things of which they have no personal knowledge. The fact that those views ‘cohere’ with views of older people does not improve accuracy.

The real concern is that this lack of accuracy is not acknowledged in any way in the report. Perhaps those involved might seek to justify such inaccuracy on the basis that the report merely records views. But when those views are advanced as representing the views of the ‘mine-affected community’, then advancing them without qualification carries significant implications.

The reasons for failure to qualify inaccuracies need to be considered. For example, reasons could include poor knowledge of the subject matter by those overseeing production of the report, or perhaps bias on their part or that of the researchers (a not unreasonable conclusion given the significant evidence of bias already discussed). Perhaps those involved might be able to suggest some other explanation.

In conclusion

It troubles me that, beyond a very narrow spectrum of issues, filtered through a particular view of what happened in 1988-90, Jubilee and its collaborators appear to have such little understanding of, or interest in, the complexity and difficulty of the current situation we face in post-conflict Bougainville. Yes, the concerns and fears of the interviewees presented in the report are present amongst Bougainvilleans, and yes, there are a few for whom such views are dominant. But most of us hold far more complex and nuanced views that we bring to bear in trying to weigh the still rather limited options that face us as we try to find a sustainable road to development, to highest autonomy, and possibly to independence.

In the fragile situation we are dealing with, advancing the views recorded in this report as truly representing the views of Bougainville’s ‘mine-affected communities’ – as this report does – is misleading, divisive and destructive.

I can only repeat what I said in concluding my earlier letter: The Jubilee Report is deeply flawed. Jubilee Australia’s Board bears responsibility for allowing such a misleading and irresponsible document to be released, and for limiting and redressing the damage it can cause.

In addition, however, I call on Jubilee to withdraw this defective document.

Yours sincerely,

Chief Dr. John L. Momis

President

Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Contact: Anthony Kaybing

Media Director

Dept. of President & BEC

Email: anthony.kaybing@gmail.com

Phone: +675-70259926

Bougainville Political News: Many questions on Bougainville’s unity -Momis

President Momis welcomed by Bougainvillean students

“The only intelligent and legitimate way of bringing about unity is to create a structure that empowers people and recognizes the important principal of subsidiarity and only then will we work together in solidarity,”

President Momis pictured above being greeted by Bougainville students

There are currently many questions on Bougainville’s unity but this unity cannot happen with the imposition of uniformity amongst the people.

Autonomous Bougainville Government President Chief Dr John Momis expressed this sentiment during a Seminar hosted by the University of Papua New Guinea Bougainville Students Association themed Gathering Intellectual Capacity toward our Journey to Referendum.

“The only intelligent and legitimate way of bringing about unity is to create a structure that empowers people and recognizes the important principal of subsidiarity and only then will we work together in solidarity,” President Momis said.

“Human solidarity will only come about when we recognize the differences between us and the importance of working together,” he added.

The President said the people of Bougainville have a vision and that is to reject corruption, they are rejecting manipulation, they are rejecting the syndrome of dependency and they are rejecting disempowerment and injustice.

“People are demanding the right to forge a new society based on natural justice and perennial principals that outlast any political or economic system,” he said.

President Momis also warned that people who are not imbued with such a vision are very dangerous, they maybe skilled but their skills will be abused and misused against the very society which they are called upon to build.

President Momis told the students that it is very important that education institutions must put a lot of emphasis on human formation.

“People must be formed on perennial values that outlast any of the pragmatic things that people are pushing in the world today,” he said.

“Bougainville as we discern the signs of the times, it is quite clear what the people want; they want to be intelligent active agents of change and mere passive reciepients of benefits,” the President said.

President Momis said this does not mean the people of Bougainville want to do things on their own but it means they want to take an active part in development and to be engaged in an intelligent and collaborative manner.

President Momis with Sam Akoitai

Amongst the key speakers at the seminar were several Bougainvillean leaders such as the Regional Member, Joe Lera and former Minister for Mining, Sam Akoitai as well as UPNG Vice Chancellor, Albert Mellam and several Bougainvillean students.

President Momis with UPNG students

Bougainville News : Testing times for Bougainville’s mining future


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A lone copper dump truck that was completely burned out during the crisis at Panguna mine. Photo by Ian Booth.

Autonomous government needs to weigh the cost and benefits of extractive industries, writes MATTHEW ALLEN. 

The recent passage of new mining legislation on Bougainville comes at an especially troubling time for large-scale mining operations in the Western Pacific.

One of the first major laws to be enacted since the transfer of a suite of powers to the Autonomous Bougainville Government under the terms of the 2001 political settlement with Papua New Guinea, the transitional mining law is a significant step towards the possible recommencement of large-scale mining on the island.

However, an assessment of how some of the region’s largest mines have been travelling in recent times makes for sobering reading and points to the need for deep and careful reflection as Bougainville contemplates a mining future. The report card reads like this.

In April of this year the PNG government declared a state of emergency at the Porgera gold mine in the highlands province of Enga – operated by the Canadian miner Barrick Gold – and launched a three-month operation to stamp out what it describes as “illegal” mining. Over a hundred police and military personnel were deployed to the region and hundreds of houses allegedly belonging to illegal miners were razed by security forces.

Two weeks ago the Chinese-owned Ramu nickel mine, also in PNG, was reportedly attacked by “armed villagers” resulting in injuries to five Chinese workers, damage to equipment and a three-day halt to mine production.

Late last year the PNG government effectively expropriated the lucrative yet environmentally and socially problematic Ok Tedi mine in Western Province, a move that remains the subject of a court challenge in Singapore.

In neighbouring Solomon Islands, the country’s only mine, Gold Ridge on north Guadalcanal, has been closed since the site was flooded during heavy rains in April. The Australian operator returned staff to the site in June but has recently pulled out again citing a serious escalation in security incidents and the presence of large numbers of “illegal miners” in the mine lease area.

Further south in New Caledonia, the Vale nickel mine in the Southern Province was closed for several weeks earlier this year following a chemical spill that triggered a series of fatal clashes between riot police and Kanak youth.

And so the list goes on.

Unfortunately there is nothing particularly new about this association between large-scale mining and violence in Melanesia (and nor is it peculiar to the region – a 2009 United Nations study found that at least 40 per cent of intrastate conflicts globally are related to natural resources). Gold Ridge mine was a flash point during the so-called “ethnic tensions” that gripped Solomon Islands in the late 1990s, eventually closing down as a result of the violence.

And of course local grievances associated with Rio Tinto’s giant Panguna copper mine on Bougainville were a major contributor to the 10-year civil war in which thousands died. The mine has remained closed since the conflict, but Rio Tinto’s subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), had, until the passage of the new legislation this month, retained its mining lease under PNG law.

Bougainville’s political leaders are in the unenviable position of having to weigh the costs and benefits of a mining future. At the forefront of their minds is the prospect of a referendum on full independence from PNG which, according to the autonomy arrangements, must take place between 2015 and 2020. A key question is whether an independent Bougainville can be economically viable without large-scale mining.

The avowed policy of the ABG’s current leadership is to actively explore the possibility of at least one large-scale mine, with the preferred candidate being the mothballed Panguna mine. The need for the ABG to be able to regulate Bougainville’s mining sector has been given added urgency by the increasing activities of foreign investors with questionable credentials and intentions, as well as by the recent boom in small-scale and artisanal mining activities.

There are aspects of the new mining law that are innovative and clearly informed by the problematic history of the Panguna mine and the legacy of the conflict. For example, the legislation vests the ownership of mineral resources in customary landowners, who can veto exploration but not mining once an exploration license has been granted. It also contains provisions for the development of the island’s poorer regions.

That said, the legislation has not been without its detractors – in large part reflecting the highly fragmented character of Bougainville’s politics – with the parliamentary debate and subsequent passage of the bill met with an outpouring of opposition across mainstream and social media.

Opponents claim that the new law gives privileged treatment to BCL, which loses its mining lease but automatically gains an exploration license and therefore the right to negotiate for a new mining lease. Other critics have long maintained that Bougainville should follow a path to development based on smallholder agriculture and artisanal mining rather than large-scale mining.

For its part BCL’s chairman Peter Taylor has described the new legislation as a “set-back” and Rio is to review its majority shareholding in BCL. Whatever the legal status of BCL’s claim, the history of mining on Bougainville and elsewhere in Melanesia shows us that no new mining is likely to take place without the agreement of landowners, and such agreements are open to frequent renegotiation.

One thing we can be certain of is that despite demonstrable economic recovery, Bougainville’s social and economic development indicators remain well below pre-conflict levels. There are pressing human development needs on Bougainville, which only heighten the urgency of the tough choices that must be made about its economic future.

Matthew Allen is a fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia program, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. He is conducting research on mining and political change in Melanesia funded by the Australia Research Council.

Bougainville News : Information will be vital in Bougainville mine negotiations

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An increased flow of information will be provided to Panguna landowners and other Bougainvilleans as they give consideration to a re-opening of the former copper mine, says the co-chair of the joint Panguna Negotiations Coordination Committee, Raymond Masono.

He said this is part of a strategy to ensure that Bougainvilleans are at the centre of decisions about the mine’s future.

“The exclusion of Bougainvilleans from decisions about development of the Panguna copper mine was a key cause of the Bougainville conflict.

“This is why customary landowners, the Autonomous Bougainville Government,  the National Government and Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) are adopting a very different approach in considering whether the mine should be reopened,” said  Mr Masono.

“At the heart of this approach is a commitment by all parties that decisions on the future of the mine will rest with Bougainville.”

Prime Minister O’Neill and the Chairman of BCL, Peter Taylor, agreed with Bougainville President John Momis that strong support from the ABG and affected landowners is essential if the mine is to reopen.

“This is very different to what happened in 1969, when the key decisions were made by the Australian Colonial Administration and the mining company, which was then CRA Ltd,” Mr Masono said.

The transfer of mining powers from the National Government to the ABG and the development of Bougainville’s own mining legislation, are critical in ensuring that Bougainville is in control.

The other big change is that all of the major stakeholders will be closely involved in negotiations about the future of the mine, and will have access to the information they need to deal with the legacies of earlier mining and plan for the future.

“The JPNCC has been created to make sure that this happens,” Mr Masono said.

The JPNCC is a partnership between Panguna-affected landowners, the ABG, the National Government and BCL.

A key role of the JPNCC is to undertake baseline studies designed to establish the state of the environment, and existing social conditions, in areas surrounding the Panguna mine.

These studies, which will be conducted over the next 12 to 18 months, are essential to deal with the impacts of earlier mining and to inform decisions about whether the mine should be reopened.

“If people are to have trust in the findings of baseline studies they must be conducted independently, transparently, and to the highest technical standards.

“The JPNCC will ensure that this happens,” he said.

He said much remains to be done to improve communication of information about the baseline studies and other preparations to Bougainvilleans.

“An ABG survey of communication channels, both formal media and informal transfer of information, confirmed that people outside Buka have very limited access to mainstream media, including radio, television and newspapers,” he said.

“In response to these findings the JPNCC is developing a communication strategy focusing on face-to-face communication and delivery of print materials that are designed specifically to suit Bougainville conditions”.

New Bougainville Party launches Tonsu branch

THE people of Tonsu constituency in the west coast area of Buka Island recently witnessed the launching of the New Bougainville Party’s Tonsu branch.

The ceremony which was held at Petats Island last Wednesday was attended by party leader and President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, John Momis and his cabinet ministers, party president Linus Sahoto and other senior members of the party.

The event marks Tonsu as the first constituency in Bougainville to have set up its branch, thus showing that many people there greatly admire and support the current leadership of President Momis.

On top of that, Tonsu will shortly be having permanent executives that will be manning the party’s interest. During the 2010 ABG Elections, NBP was only operating on an adhoc basis in the Tonsu area.

Mr Momis and his delegation included ministers Joel Banam (Public Administration and member for Tonsu), Luke Karaston (Works), Wilfred Komba (Commerce), Rose Pihei (Culture and Tourism), Newton Kauva and others.

Bougainville News : President Momis to PNG Government “show me our money”

 

M O

The Panguna Mine funded PNG’s development from 1972 to 1989. Now, at the Peace talks, the PNG Government agreed to fund Bougainville’s restoration through a guaranteed share of PNG’s development budget,” President Momis said

Financing the Autonomous Bougainville Government according to the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the PNG constitutional laws is not a new program or an option for the National Government.

ABG President Chief Dr John Momis made this bold statement during the Joint Supervisory Board Meeting in Kokopo last Friday as he pointed out the National Government’s lax attitude in funding the ABG’s Restoration Development Grant.

“My Cabinet and I are getting more and more annoyed when we hear National Government officers and sometimes minister speaking of Bougainville’s requests for funding of the RDG as though these are new claims,” the President said.

“Our government’s entitlements are written into the Constitution of Papua New Guinea. Each government may share some blame for not getting this right from 2005, but that does make the provisions any less relevant,” he added.

When the Bougainville Peace Agreement was being negotiated the National Government’s finances were in a poor state and the National Government argued it could not afford to provide the massive sums needed to fund recurrent costs adequately and to restore infrastructure and service in Bougainville in what is now known as the Restoration and Development Grant.

The National Government team offered the Bougainville parties the rolling five-year average formula based upon the 2001 National Public Investment Program.

Their argument was that as Papua New Guinea’s economy improved Bougainville would benefit in the same proportion as the rest of the country, in other words the proportion of the National Development Budget would remain roughly the same as it was in 2001 and the rationale was primarily based around a concept of fairness.

“The Panguna Mine funded PNG’s development from 1972 to 1989. Now, at the Peace talks, the PNG Government agreed to fund Bougainville’s restoration through a guaranteed share of PNG’s development budget,” President Momis said

Under the RDG;s formulae proposed by the ABG’s share of the domestically financed Public Investment Programme will be around two percent but the formulae proposed by the National Government Bougainville’s share of the Development Budget will reduce dramatically to one third of the share it was in 2001.

Since the creation of Bougainville’s autonomous arrangement the RDG has remain stagnant at K15 m per year.
The President asked that the JSB seek to agree the RDG formulae and that the ABG want the 2015 paid at the correct rate to maintain services in Bougainville.

He also recommended that the respective Chief Secretaries of both governments sit down and agree on the appointment of a suitable mediator and arbitrator

Bougainville News: President Momis proposes new arrangement for engagement with PNG Government

 JM PO

Reported by Anthony Kaybing : New Dawn FM Bougainville News :Picture above PNG Prime Minister on recent visit to Bougainville

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has called for the abolishment of the National Coordination Office of Bougainville Affairs (NCOBA).

The ABG made a proposal last year that NCOBA and its roles and functions should be reviewed and a joint review on Bougainville’s Autonomy Arrangements, now endorsed by both the ABG and National Government also recommended this.

The ABG is of the view that NCOBA should be replaced with a different entity that can better coordinate the efforts of the Bougainville’s state of affairs while also acting as a go-between the ABG and the National Government.

A proposed idea is that a Bougainville Government representative office be based in Waigani and to be managed by a Director and staffed by Bougainville public servants to undertake coordination and advocacy with the National Government its departments and agencies.

Another option that was raised was the creation of A Bougainville Affairs Ministry, unlike the present ministry that is aligned to NCOBA or there could be a small Bougainville Affairs office within the Department of the Prime Minister and National Executive Council (Policy Division).

ABG President Chief Dr John Momis believes that the proposed arrangements can manage its engagement with all National Government departments and agencies and work effectively and efficiently.

The current state in which NCOBA operates has come into question due to the fact that it has not been as effective and efficient as the ABG and bureaucracy along with the people can see fit.

During the JSB Meeting of this year in Kokopo, the ABG has asked the National Government that the entity be disbanded and allow for the creation of a new entity that will have both influence of governments and allow for clear liaisons between the two governments.

New Dawn FM understands that the best time NCOBA was seen as working was under the former Director, BILL DIM who is now in New Zealand.

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Bougainville News: Does the PNG Government currently owe the Autonomous Bougainville Government over K200 million ?

PM PNG
 

The PNG government will continue to honour its commitment in releasing K100 million annually for the remaining four years.

The national government in 2012 made a commitment to allocate K500 million over a five-year period, to rehabilitate infrastructure throughout Bougainville.

However, despite the first K100 million funding being released, last year (2013), nothing much has been done there,”

PNG Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said in a recent radio interview (see below)(picture above traditional welcome to Bougainville February 2014)

The Papua New Guinea National Government currently owes the Autonomous Bougainville Government over K200 million under the Restoration Development Grants.

This was revealed this week (30 June 2014) by the ABG president Chief Dr John Momis during the opening of a double classroom at Tilowa Primary School when he was talking about the transfer of powers to the Council of Elders

He told the people who gathered for that special occasion that this money under the Bougainville Peace Agreement belongs to Bougainville but the National Government was underpaying us.

He said after calculations were made, ABG found out that the National Government owes us over K200 million.

The president said if ABG gets that money, they will then look at ways to help the Council of Elders

in terms of increasing their funds.

He explained that in this way, the Council of Elders will be empowered to look after their own law and order issues, education

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill today (6/02/14) expressed the National Government’s gratitude towards the leaders and people of Bougainville for their kind welcome and generous hospitality, during his delegation’s recent visit to the region.

He said this during an interview on the FM100 Talkback Show, in Port Moresby and outlined the government’s commitment to assist Bougainville with infrastructure rehabilitation funding.

“The government will continue to honour its commitment in releasing K100 million annually for the remaining four years.

“The national government in 2012 made a commitment to allocate K500 million over a five-year period, to rehabilitate infrastructure throughout Bougainville.

“However, despite the first K100 million funding being released, last year (2013), nothing much has been done there,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.

The Prime Minister said the monetary allocation was committed entirely to rehabilitate the rundown infrastructure throughout the region.

He also said the funding allocated last year was given to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and it is solely responsible for acquitting the funds.

“There are also Special Resolution Grants sitting in trust accounts that need to be spent on upgrading infrastructure there,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.

He said with the history of the crisis and loss of lives it was important for the national government to go back and engage with the people of Bougainville and apologize traditionally for all the hardship created, not only for Bougainville but for PNG as well. “I believe these issues could have been better managed before it got out of hand.

“It has been an eye-opening experience for a national government delegation which I led into the region recently,” Prime Minister O’Neill said.

He thanked the ABG, particularly President Chief Dr John Momis and his Cabinet, along with the four MPs of Bougainville for their partnership and dedication in putting aside their differences and working together to move Bougainville forward.

“I also met with the President of the Me’ekamui Government, Philip Miriori, and other leaders including the Panguna landowners like Laurence Daveona and Sam Kaona,” Prime Minister O’Neill said.

The Prime Minister reiterated that the government still respects the Arawa Peace Agreement signed in 2001 and looks forward to implementing it. “Our aim of going to Bougainville was to try and restore government services in the region.

“We want our hospitals to be functioning well in Bougainville, the roads upgraded and sealed, and the Aropa Airport reopened,” the Prime Minister said.

“The government has already opened the Port in Kieta and has re-established PNG Power to distribute power throughout Arawa town,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill announced.

The president of the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville, John Momis, says his government is considering suing the national government for what he says is its failure to meet the terms of the Peace Agreement.(Interview July 2013)

He says the lack of money is stalling preparations for the referendum on possible independence, which is a key part of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

That vote is likely in 2016 and Mr Momis told Don Wiseman Bougainvilleans need to be more self reliant or seek financial help elsewhere if the national government does not meet its commitments.

JOHN MOMIS: The people of Bougainville must realise that that event, that important political moment in the history of Bougainville is quite imminent. As a matter of fact, next year the ABG, their own house of representatives, will determine the actual date of the referendum. So whilst we’re experiencing a lot of problems in respect to assistance from the national government, we need to get ourselves organised and be more self-reliant, even in terms of sourcing funds from outside. Because we are not having a very successful engagement with the national government. They seem to be having no qualms or conscience and consistently breaching the Bougainville Peace Agreement. So the only way to motivate our people is to say, look, we have to be ready. It’s like saying the grand final date is on, and, whether we are ready or not, we have to play in the grand final. We made the commitment so we better get ourselves organised.

DON WISEMAN: When you say that the national government is breaching the peace agreement, there was a lot of good feeling toward the end of last year and the government came through with those very large commitments they had made. So are you suggesting there’s been a backtracking since then?

JM: There’s been quite a bit of backtracking, yes. Even last year the $100 million the government promised only came to us in November towards the end of the year. It doesn’t give us much time to implement, especially when the Bougainville administration doesn’t have the capacity. And this year, we haven’t go this year’s allocation yet. And the restoration and development grant, which is stipulated in the Bougainville Peace Agreement, which is sub-constitutionally guaranteeing the allocation of funds which should be given to us every year – they have been under paying us deliberately. We worked out that, in fact, the national government owes us something like approximately $188 million. That is the only guaranteed funding to Bougainville. They’ve been severely underpaying us.

DW: And that’s separate from the commitment of 500 million kina that was made?

JM: Yes, 500 million for the next five years – that’s a political commitment the national government made. Whereas the restoration and development grant is constitutionally stipulated. The national government has no choice but to give it. In fact, we are seriously thinking of taking them to court for such a massive breach, which creates a lot of doubt in the minds of Bougainvilleans about the national government’s goodwill