Ok Tedi Board Chairman ‘Not Welcome’ In PNG
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 5, 2012) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has told the chairman of the Ok Tedi Mine Ltd. Board, Professor Ross Garnaut, that he is not welcome in Papua New Guinea.
Mr. O’Neill said during Grievance Debate in Parliament on Friday that Prof. Garnaut who was former chairman of PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) was undermining the leadership and the people of Papua New Guinea.
The Prime Minister, who has recently called on the BHP Billiton mining company to review its position on how it manages PNGSDP on behalf of the people of PNG, was aggrieved by comments by Prof. Garnaut during the handing over of the chairmanship.
Mr. O’Neill said the comments he made was undermining the political leadership and the people of this country.
"Let me quote that he goes on to say that ‘naturally, with such accumulation of wealth in a poor country, it is very tempting for political figures to think of better ways of using it right now rather than putting it into long-term development.’"
Mr. O’Neill said nobody alluded to the fact that the government wanted to use the money right now.
"Nobody told BHP or Ross Garnaut that this was a fact. I will put him on notice that he is no longer welcome to this country," the Prime Minister said.
"He can stay out of Papua New Guinea and conduct himself. I want to put it on record in this parliament that we will not tolerate people of such standing coming in and disrespecting leaders of this country. I am aggrieved by the fact because he has no care, he thinks that he is above everybody and he is not accountable to anybody.
"I want to put it on record that he will be no longer welcome in this country until BHP surrenders that control of PNGSDP to the government and people of Papua New Guinea. We will maintain that position," Prime Minister O’Neill said. He said PNGSDP was designed when BHP exited the country due to environmental and many other issues.
"However, looking back now 10-years later we ask ourselves, did we get a better deal. It is perceived that the mine was given to the PNG government and the government now owns it 100 percent.
"Do we really control that mine or not? Has it delivered to the expectations of our people, particularly the people of Western Province?" Mr. O’Neill said a few days ago, he mentioned publicly that it is time that BHP review its position on how it manages PNGSDP on behalf of the people of Papua New Guinea.
"What have they delivered? We have given them a blanket cover, blanket insurance, protection from this Parliament that we will never sue them for the damage they have caused to our people," Mr. O’Neill said. "We have seen many big announcements about major projects that will change the course of this country over the past 10 years and yet we have yet to see one of those projects being delivered."
Mr. O’Neill said BHP does not want to come back to PNG but are running PNGSDP by remote control from Melbourne.
"For them PNG is not an investment destination, but why do they try and continue to run these organizations for and on behalf of the people of this country by remote control from a place called Melbourne in Australia by directors who do not live in Papua New Guinea, by directors who do not know what we need in this country? They don’t know what our people’s daily lives are, but they continue to dictate the management of these particular organization."
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