Thursday, December 18, 2014

Commission of Inquiry report on brief out matters presented to National Government by Judge Warwick Andrews

Office of the Prime Minister

 The National Government has received the “Report on the Commission of Inquiry into Processes and Procedures used to Brief Out Matters to Law Firms, and Processes and Procedures for Paying Public Monies to Law Firms” from Judge Warwick Andrew.
In receiving the document today, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill,  said the completion of the report by Judge Andrews and his team would provide clear direction for the Government officials in ensuring transparency and proper process, and save millions of Kina in legal bills.
 
“This area of brief outs has been the subject of abuse for many years, well before this government came into office,” O’Neill said in receiving the report.
“As a government we have been receiving the raw end of this discussion, mainly because we’re trying to clean up the mess that has been there for a while.
“There are some issues that are still out there for public debate and of course some issues are before the courts.
“But we will present this in the coming session of the Parliament so that we can make sure that we tighten up the procedures in which the brief outs are being made in the future to many law firms that have been acting about half of the state for many years.
“I know that these recommendations will save the state lot of funds and excessive abuse that is being happening for quite some time, and as result of this inquiry we are going to ensure that there are strict guidelines that are going to be established from here onwards.”
Judge Andrews made the following statement before presenting the report to the Government:“The report was the initiative of the Prime Minister.
“Despite previous investigations having been made into the processes and procedures for clients and brief out of legal matters to law firms, and despite several recommendations having been made, the area remains the subject of abuse.
“The focus of this inquiry, under the terms of reference, has been to the reform of the system by way of instituting proper control mechanisms.
“As is well known, the state has made vastly excessive amounts of legal work carried out by private law firms from the past.
“The commission believes and hopes that if its recommendations are implemented there will be appropriate systems in place which will prevent such abuse.
“The commission has been completely independent, there has been no interference with the commission in any way, either political otherwise, by anyone at all.
“Having said that I would now like to present the report to the Prime Minister.”

Prime Minister opens Lae Port Tidal Basin Project


 Office of the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has congratulated stakeholders involved in the work undertaken to complete Phase 1 of the Lae Port (Tidal Basin Project).

 
He extended his congratulation to the contractor, China Harbour Engineering Co. (PNG) Ltd, the landowners, Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), PNG Ports and all the people who were involved in the project on Wednesday.
O'Neill said Phase 1 of the project was delivered ahead of time and under budget and that cabinet has also approved the start of Phase 2.
He said the opening of Phase 1 of the new port in the Lae Tidal Basin was a very important occasion for the country.
“This is another demonstration of our ability as a country, as a government, as a community and as people to deliver world class infrastructure,” O’Neill said.
“As many of you know, our government has made infrastructure development a priority, and this is another major piece of our national infrastructure that will serve the people of Papua New Guinea.”
O’Neill said the port would benefit not only the people of Morobe, it would also serve people in the Highland provinces who get their goods freighted to the port then up to the highlands by road.
He said landowners of the tidal basin would also benefit through opportunities such as stevedoring as did landowners of the old port, and more broadly thousands of additional jobs would be created.
“When fully operational, this port will create new jobs and related opportunities for over 5,000 people - with projections of this reaching 10,000 as port business increases in the coming years.”
Currently around 55 vessels call into Lae port each month and this will increase substantially with the wharf extension, generating increased revenue through pilotage, wharfage and berthage revenue streams.  This means more larger vessels, heavier machinery and increased throughput to meet the growing economy in the country as well as the Asia/Pacific region.
The trade forecast for the coming year is for the movement of over:

- 130,000 containers for international shipping.
- Over 56,000 domestic containers.
- Break-bulk and Liquid Bulk movement to be over one million revenue tonnes.

Papua New Guinea’s fine cocoa back from the brink of disaster

Updated 17 December 2014, 17:33 AEDT


Australia Plus
           
Farmers are a tough breed and when the whole community’s livelihood is at stake there’s no such thing as giving up.
The saying about the tough getting going when the going gets tough could have been created with Odelia Virua Taman in mind. 
Cocoa farmer Odelia Virua Taman tells Food Bowl presenters Anath Gopal and Leesa Burton how her community overcame adversity.
The cocoa farmer from Papua New Guinea’s New Britain province summoned her courage and her community to face a threat to the coca crop that put their lifestyle and livelihood in jeopardy.
A moth pest called the Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB) was detected in PNG in 2006.  It ripped the heart out of the economy and East New Britain which had been responsible for more than 50 per cent of PNG’s cocoa production.
“It was disaster. Every time I speak about it I remember the pain and suffering. We had banana for breakfast, banana for lunch and banana for dinner. We went through a period of a terrible time,” says Odelia.
But thanks to a community commitment to manage the pest driven by farmers such as Odelia, who is secretary of the Tavilo Farmers Cooperative, the crop is now thriving and known for its quality.
For Odelia the motivation to succeed was clear cut:  “(I hope) for everybody to have a high standard of living. To be able to afford school, education for your children, hospital, bills; to be able to have electricity.  These are basic requirements,” she says.
“You have a goal in front of you and you go for it.  That’s Odelia, that’s me.”
Odelia’s story is just one aspect of Papua New Guinea's agricultural success covered in Episode 2 of Food Bowl on Australia Plus Television.  If you miss the broadcast catch the program later on our Watch Now service.
 
- See more at: http://www.australiaplus.com/international/2014-12-17/papua-new-guinea’s-fine-cocoa-back-from-the-brink-of-disaster/1400019#sthash.ekFx3VDk.zKTITB2s.dpuf

Will the Search for Amelia Earhart ever end?

 
Nearly eight decades after she disappeared in the South Pacific, the aviator continues to spark intense passion—and controversy 
Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

 
Do you want to see it?” Ric Gillespie asks, reaching for a black portfolio resting on the floor of his Pennsylvania farmhouse. He extracts a sheet of aluminum, about 18 by 24 inches—bent, dented, scratched and crisscrossed by 103 rivet holes, whose size, position and spacing he has studied for almost 25 years the way assassination buffs pore over the Zapruder film. And with good reason: If he’s right, this is one of the great historical artifacts of the 20th century, a piece of the airplane in which Amelia Earhart made her famous last flight over the Pacific Ocean in July 1937. 
With rulers, photographs and diagrams, he shows where it could have fit on Earhart’s customized Lockheed Electra, over the hole left when she removed a window on the right rear fuselage. “These things don’t just line up by coincidence,” he says. In late October, after seizing a chance to compare his aluminum sheet against an Electra under restoration in Kansas, he announced that the rivet holes and other features were the equivalent of “a fingerprint” establishing that it had come from Earhart’s plane, leading some news organizations to declare the case closed (Discovery News headline: “Amelia Earhart Plane Fragment Identified”). He tells me he’s “98 percent” sure the piece came from Earhart’s plane. He raises that figure to 99 percent after getting a report from a leading metallurgist, Thomas Eagar of MIT, who concluded that “the preponderance of the evidence indicates you have a true Amelia Earhart artifact.” That’s still 1 percent less certain than he was in 1992, when he told Life magazine: “There’s only one possible conclusion: We found a piece of Amelia Earhart’s aircraft.”
Anyone who thinks his new data will settle the question of what happened to Earhart, though, hasn’t been paying attention for the last 78 years. Other researchers have studied the same rivet holes and radio transcripts and come to radically different conclusions—and they’re not conceding anything. 
Ever since Gillespie found this piece of metal in 1991, on the tiny, remote island where he believes Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, crash-landed and died as castaways, he has been the public face of America’s never-ending fascination with Earhart’s fate. Yet it was only in the last few months that he obtained what he considers conclusive evidence that it came from their plane. Rangy and graying, a former pilot and aircraft-accident investigator, he runs, with his wife, an organization called The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery. Since 1989 TIGHAR has mounted ten expeditions to the South Pacific, and he is seeking money for an 11th. His fund-raising prowess and mediagenic announcements have made Gillespie an object of envy and occasional vitriol among his fellow Earhart researchers—a group that includes serious historians as well as wild-eyed obsessives, who pile up scraps of evidence into conspiracies reaching right up to the White House.
“It’s nonstop,” marvels Dorothy Cochranea curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, who was recently contacted by a researcher trying to track down a piece of carved driftwood found 70 years ago that he thinks holds a clue to Earhart’s fate. Cochrane understands the interest in her, but had expected it would have died down by, say, the 1997 centennial of her birth. “That’s what drives me crazy,” she says. “Now that she’s long gone, why are people holding onto this?”
In 1937, Earhart was one of the most famous women in the world, a best-selling author, feminist hero and friend of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Born in Atchison, Kansas, to a locally prominent family,
 Earhart had fallen in love with flying as a young woman, and she became famous in 1928 as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic—as a passenger, an experience she nevertheless turned into a best-selling book. Subsequently she set numerous records as a pilot, flying solo across the Atlantic, nonstop across North America and from Honolulu to Oakland. With the help of her husband, George (G.P.) Putnam, a scion of the publishing family, she made a career of flying, writing and lecturing. Slender, diffident, good-looking in a tousled way, she reminded people of that other famous aviator from the Midwest, Charles Lindbergh. But, says Cochrane, while Lindbergh shrank from fame, Earhart embraced her opportunity to be a role model for women.
Except by 1937, there were fewer and fewer places left that no one had flown between. Earhart was intent on one last spectacular trip, circling the globe around the Equator on a zigzag route that would cover more than 30,000 miles. In a twin-engine Electra stuffed with enough fuel to stay aloft for 20 hours, she set out that March from Oakland and got as far as Honolulu, where the plane was damaged in a botched takeoff attempt. After it was shipped back to California for repairs, she took off again on May 21, heading east this time, taking 40 days and making more than 20 stops (including Miami; San Juan; Natal, Brazil; Dakar; Khartoum; Calcutta; Bangkok; and Darwin, Australia) to reach the airfield at Lae, Papua New Guinea. The next leg, to tiny Howland Island, 2,556 miles away, would be the hardest. She took off at 10 a.m. on July 2, Lae time, planning to land roughly 20 hours later, on the morning of the same date after crossing the International Date Line. Depending on which version you accept, either she was never seen alive again, or died a few years later in captivity, or lived into her late 70s under an assumed identity as a New Jersey housewife.
***
The world looked very different from inside a cockpit in those days, before radar, GPS or weather satellites. Noonan, a highly regarded pioneer in aerial navigation, had to rely on sun and star “sights” to chart a course. The Electra had a radio direction finder, which could be used to navigate over short distances, but it apparently didn’t work well enough to be helpful. A Coast Guard cutter, the Itasca, was standing by near Howland to guide her in. There was a schedule for Earhart to communicate with the Itasca at specific intervals, but it fell apart, perhaps because the cutter was in an unusual time zone with a half-hour offset. For reasons unknown—Gillespie believes the Electra’s receiving antenna, strung on struts beneath the fuselage, broke during takeoff at Lae—it appears that Earhart never heard the Itasca’s increasingly urgent calls.


DEC15_N99_AmeliaEarhart.jpg
The absence of conclusive evidence has given rise to competing theories on what became of Amelia

But she must have been close. The Itasca’s operators heard her transmissions, growing stronger as she approached Howland Island shortly after sunrise. At one point her signal was so strong the ship’s radio operator ran to the deck to look for her overhead. But he saw only empty sky, and she, it seems, just clouds and empty ocean. Near the end, her voice was becoming strained; she sounded “frantic,” according to the Itasca’s commanding officer. “We must be on you but cannot see you,” she radioed. “Gas is running low.” Her last message reported she was flying on a line “157” (southeast) and “337” (northwest). But she neglected to say in which of those directions she was heading. After that, silence.

Author Elgen Long (George Napolitano / Filmmagic)
So the simplest explanation, and the official version, of her disappearance: Unsure of her location and out of fuel, she crashed and sank in the 18,000-foot-deep waters northwest of Howland Island. The Itasca hurried off to search in that direction; the battleship Colorado, arriving on July 7, would search to the southeast. The aircraft carrier Lexington, based in San Diego, arrived a few days later and stayed in the area until July 18. None of the ships or planes saw so much as an oil slick. “Crashed-and-sank” was the conclusion of Elgen Long, a veteran military and commercial pilot, who with his wife, Marie, spent 25 years researching their book Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved.
It remains the simplest explanation, but for that very reason, has attracted derision from those who prefer their history complicated.
***
Some of the technical points are in dispute. Skeptics point out that the nominal flying time for the Electra on full tanks was 24 hours, not 20. But Earhart had faced head winds of 26.5 miles an hour, roughly twice as strong as forecast. Early in the flight a storm required a fuel-wasting climb to 10,000 feet. In 1999, an analysis by Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Center concluded that her tanks were almost certainly empty as she approached Howland. “She probably should have turned back to Lae at the halfway point,” says David Jourdan, the president of Nauticos, an undersea exploration company, which has sent two expeditions to look for the wreckage.

Marine explorer David Jourdan (Nauticos )
“She knew she was going in,” Long says. “She couldn’t find the island and was running out of fuel. Her voice showed that.”
Others come to different conclusions. Gardner Island (now Nikumaroro, part of the Republic of Kirabati), where Gillespie has been searching, is about 350 nautical miles from Howland—coincidentally, or not, along the “157-337” line Earhart said she was flying—so he has tried to show she had enough fuel to fly at least that far. He also cites dozens of messages, supposedly from Earhart, that were heard around the Pacific and as far away as Florida for five days after she disappeared. (Under certain conditions, shortwave radio waves, reflected by the ionosphere, can “skip” for thousands of miles.) Obviously, if genuine, these would disprove the crashed-and-sank theory. Some clearly were hoaxes, but others are harder to dismiss. 

Betty Klenck Brown, who may have heard Earhart’s radioed pleas for help. (Noah Berger / AP Images )
Betty Klenck, a teenager in St. Petersburg, Florida, was cruising the dial on her family’s shortwave set and was startled by a voice saying, “This is Amelia Earhart. Help me!” Sitting alone in her family’s living room, she strained to hear a woman crying, calling for help and arguing with a man who seemed to be delirious. “Waters knee deep!” Betty heard. “Let me out!”
As the weak signal faded in and out over three hours, Betty copied what she heard into her notebook. Her father reported it to local Coast Guard officials, who told him everything was under control. Betty held on to the notebook until she showed it to Gillespie in 2000.


Laurie Robin


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Harmony Gold and Newcrest to invest $2.3 billion in Papua New Guinea mine development

 Mining Technology

16 December 2014
Harmony Gold Mining and Newcrest Mining are set to invest $2.3 billion in developing their Golpu deposit in Papua New Guinea.
Harmony and Newcrest each own 50% of the Golpu project through the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture (WGJV).

Golpu
Image: Schematic cross section of Golpu porphyry deposit 2012 compared with 2014. Photo: courtesy of Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited.

The companies will advance the project to feasibility study stage, which covers the first stage of Golpu's development.
Targeting the upper higher value portion of the ore-body, work during stage one will continue on optimising a second stage mine development (stage two), which will encompass the rest of the ore reserves.
The feasibility study for the first stage, as well as the updated pre-feasibility study (PFS) for the second stage of the project, is slated for completion by the end of calendar year 2015.
"The updated pre-feasibility study supports our view that Golpu is a spectacular ore body with a large copper component, affordable and mineable."
Harmony Gold Mining CEO Graham Briggs said: "The updated pre-feasibility study supports our view that Golpu is a spectacular ore body with a large copper component, affordable and mineable.
"The conclusion of the updated PFS is a major project milestone and has demonstrated the significant potential of this world-class orebody, which contains mineral resources of 20 million ounces of gold and 9.4 million tonnes (Mt) of copper."
With the assistance of WorleyParsons as project consultant, the Golpu project team has incorporated a total of 52,000 new drill core samples into the updated study.
The two proposed block caves in stage one have been designed to access about 40% of the contained metal (gold and copper) of the Golpu reserve with the remaining 60% of reserve being extracted by a future deeper block cave (stage two).
Later, the mining and processing infrastructure of stage one will be used to support development of the second part.
Stage one extracts 146Mt at an average grade of 1.02g/t gold and 1.6% copper, and the proposed start-up production rate is 3Mt as year mined from Block Cave 1 (BC1) and 6Mt a year from the deeper Block Cave 2 (BC2).
BC2 is situated about 1,050m below surface whereas BC1 is only around 425m below surface and will produce 12Mt of cave ore over a five year period.
 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Daewoo International demonstrates confidence in Papua New Guinea economy

Office of the Prime Minister
Papua New Guinea


Prime Minister Peter O’Neill  has welcomed Daewoo’s ongoing commitment to Papua New Guinea. 
During a courtesy call by the Daewoo International’s president, Byeong Eal Jeon, and senior executive vice-president, Jeong Hwan Park, O'Neill, accompanied by the Minister for Public Enterprise and State Investment, Ben Micah, thanked the company for its enthusiasm for expanding operations in PNG.
From left are Byeong Eal Jeon, Minister Ben Micah, Byeong Eal Jeon, and Prime Minister Peter O'Neill 

O'Neill said Daewoo was a major international company that recognised the investment and business potential of PNG and was seeking to deepen involvement in the economy.
“Our door is always open to international investment and the introduction of new technologies and processes," he said.
“Companies like Daewoo bring with them knowledge that has been gained around the world that can then provide solutions to challenges faced in a geographically diverse country like Papua New Guinea.”
Jeon provided an overview and presentation of current projects Daewoo is currently operating around the region and would like to further expend in PNG.
These include engagement in power generation, the construction of modular housing and transportation infrastructure.
“Mr Jeon has provided an assurance that Daewoo’s operations in Papua New Guinea will work accordance and national standards and environmental requirements,” O’Neill said.
“It is important that our people can physically access electricity, and that this energy is provided at a cost that is affordable to families. 
“Keeping costs down also expands the revenue base for energy providers and we ask all related companies to be aware to ensue they factor affordability into their business plans.”
Jeon advised PM O’Neill that Daewoo International was looking forward to presenting proposals to the Government on future major infrastructure projects as these open to tender processes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Prime Minister reassures nation of increasing preparedness to deal with security incidents

Prime Minister's Media
 
Following the armed siege that occurred in Sydney overnight, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has provided reassurance that Papua New Guinea’s capacity to deal with a range of threats continues to increase in the face of a changing global security environment.
“It is only natural that around the world right now people are asking if their domestic security services are effectively equipped to deal with a range of potential threat scenarios,” PM O’Neill said.
“As we have seen over the past day and night, no country in the world can be thought to be immune from such brutal acts, and even with the high skill level of New South Wales police, the safety of all people cannot be guaranteed in such a complex situation.
“The range and form of security threats facing the global community has changed in recent years, and security services of all nations take into consideration both domestic and international factors.
“Every country is different, and while Papua New Guinea does not face the same security threats as countries such as Australia or the United States, we must continue to be vigilant.
"Internal training has been improved through ongoing mentoring to raise the capacity of our security services.
"Direct training is further being undertaken by Papua New Guinea’s police and military personnel in Australia, the United States, Israel and other partner countries.
“This improves the capacity for our police and military to deal with a range of potential threats including hostage situations.
“Funding for law and order continues to increase each year and we are in a much better situation than a few years ago.
“Papua New Guinea’s security capacity and preparedness will continue to evolve particularly as we prepare to host global events including APEC."
 

 

 

Papua New Guinea’s condolences for Sydney siege victims

Office of the Prime Minister

Papua New Guinea

 Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has written to Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbot  to convey the nation’s sympathy following the death of two hostages in an armed siege in Sydney overnight.
“It was with great concern that we have seen events unfold relating to the armed siege at Martin Place in Sydney overnight,”  O’Neill said in the letter.
“On behalf of the people of Papua New Guinea, I express our deep condolences to the families of the victims of this siege who died in such tragic circumstances.
“The innocent victims of this tragedy were in the prime of their lives and their loss is felt around the world.
“We further express our concern for the survivors and the torment they feel as they seek to come terms with what has occurred.
“Papua New Guineans stands with our Australian brothers and sisters and share the grief your nation is experiencing today.
“It is at times such as this that people and nations unite in common purpose to work together for a better world that is free of such brutal acts.”

Christmas in Lae


Newcrest Mining targets Papua New Guinea prize

          

 
NEWCREST Mining says it expects to cut costs by splitting the development plan for a major offshore project into two stages. 
         

Newcrest Mining chief executive Sandeep Biswas. Picture: Supplied
Newcrest Mining chief executive Sandeep Biswas. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied
The Melbourne-based gold mining heavyweight says it is planning to target the higher value part of the ore body in the first stage of the Golpu gold and copper project.
A pre-feasibility study for stage two of the project, in Papua New Guinea, will be ­updated.
The estimated capital outlay for the first stage over the life on the mine is $US3.1 billion ($3.8 billion).
A joint venture project with Harmony Gold Mining, Golpu was originally forecast to cost $US4.8 billion.
“By targeting the high value core of the ore body first, we have increased the ­economic returns from the mine by being cash flow ­positive earlier in the life of the mine,” chief executive Sandeep Biswas said.
“Progressing stage one to the feasibility study stage aligns with Newcrest’s strategy of profitable growth through low-cost operations.”
Both the stage one feasibility study and stage two pre-feasibility study are expected to be updated by the end of the month. Production at stage one is forecast to begin in 2020, with annual output expected to peak at 320,000 ounces of gold and 150,000 tonnes of copper in 2025.
Production for the original project was forecast to peak at 550,000 ounces of gold and 330,000 ounces of copper.
The Golpu deposit forms part of the Wafi-Golpu project, 65km from Lae.
The PNG Government has an option to take a 30 per cent stake in the project, which would reduce Newcrest and Harmony’s 50 per cent shares to 35 per cent.
Newcrest shares closed down 5c at $10.67 on Monday — a performance marginally better than the wider market.
Shares in the group were trading at about $8.60 early last month but have climbed in line with the gold price, which is finding favour as a safe haven while other commodity prices broadly slide.
Gold was trading at $US1216.92 an ounce on Monday, compared with less than $US1150 early last month.

Papua New Guinea approves 50 applications from Manus Island asylum seekers but resettlement delayed

By Liam Cochrane
ABC       
Papua New Guinea has approved 50 refugee applications from the 1,000 men on Manus Island, but is yet to resettle anyone.
PNG's foreign minister Rimbink Pato said the assessment of asylum applications on Manus Island was going "full speed on every front".
"Fifty asylum seekers have been determined genuine refugees," Mr Pato said.
He said the men will be resettled in PNG but that has been delayed by the lack of a policy framework.
While a permanent policy has been under review for months, an interim plan has been announced.
Papua New Guinea will give refugees 12-month bridging visas and help them find jobs but the longer-term prospects for refugees are not clear.
Australia is funding a new immigration detention centre near Port Moresby that PNG officials say is for asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected and are being deported.
There have been no reports, so far, of negative assessments.

Papuan bishop decries witch hunts, violence against women

By Antonio Anup Gonsalves
.- A bishop in Papua New Guinea last week condemned the witch hunts which take place in the country, where many residents believe in sorcery and those accused of practicing it – mostly women – are attacked and murdered by mobs.

Indigenous Papuans performing a traditional dance. Credit: Diocese of Daru-Kiunga.
Indigenous Papuans performing a traditional dance. Credit: Diocese of Daru-Kiunga.


“I encourage all our citizens not to get into this bad habit of accusing innocent and defenseless people of sorcery, resulting in torturing and killing,” Bishop Arnold Orowae of Wabag, capital of Enga province in Papua New Guinea's highlands, said in a Dec. 9 statement.
“This is a moral evil that should not be practiced,” he added.
Nearly all of Papua New Guinea's population is Christian, and 27 percent is Catholic, yet many Papuan Christians integrate indigenous beliefs and practices into their religious life.
Some indigenous Papuans do not believe in misfortune and accidents, and attribute them to sorcery, while the accusation can also be used for revenge or envy. Amnesty International reports that women are six times more likely to be accused of sorcery than are men.
Bishop Orowae said the accused are often women who are “vulnerable and defenseless, and people run around aimlessly taking pleasure in accusing, torturing, and even killing them.”
“No one is there to defend these defenseless women,” Bishop Orowae lamented. “It is saddening to hear and experience such brutal killings.”
In August, the country's Institute of National Affairs told Pacific Beat that much of the sorcery-related violence is committed by young men in “power plays” in their rural communities.
“In this age and time we cannot continue to act and behave like barbaric people who have no respect for life and who kill to protect their territories,” Bishop Orowae stated.
Witch hunts begin at funerals of the deceased, or the bedside of the ill, Richard Eves, an anthropologist with the Australian National University, told The Diplomat, an Asia-Pacific current affairs magazine, earlier this year. The magazine noted: “With limited medical or scientific understandings of health and illness, communities find few alternative explanations to counter their deeply embedded fear of supernatural evils.”
Bishop Orowae said: “People are still ignorant and would not want to accept that people can die at any time through sickness or damage done to their body. Even healthy people can die of sicknesses.”
“Where does this come from?” he asked. “It is either pure jealousy, or it is used as a means to accuse people for revenge.”
Bishop Orowae, who is president of the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands bishops' conference, reminded local residents that “respect for life should be in the conscience of all people regardless of who that person is.”
“We have laws of the country that govern us,” he stated. “We have the Christian faith that also determines our way of life in following Jesus, proclaiming his truth and living his life.”
Papua New Guinea's 1971 Sorcery Act criminalized the practice of sorcery, and accepted the accusation of sorcery as a defense in cases of murder, but the act was repealed in 2013.
Its appeal, however, was accompanied by a new law which included sorcery-related killings among crimes penalized by capital punishment, as well as aggravated rape and armed robbery.
Despite this, witch hunts and the murder of supposed witches continues, with many police failing to stop the violence; the country's Constitutional and Law Reform Commission estimates 150 sorcery-related deaths annually. Many cases go unreported due to non-collaboration with officials, and fear of reprisal.
In light of this trend, Bishop Orowae thanked local administration and police for recently saving three defenseless women from mob violence in Teremanda, a village of Enga province.
“God has given us this life as a gift and we should respect it, and only God can take it back,” Bishop Orowae further explained. “He does not give us permission to take away the lives of others, even the unborn, the disabled, the criminals, the unwanted, the sick.”
In January, the Church in Papua New Guinea held a seminar to tackle the epidemic of sorcery-related violence, at which Fr. Franco Zocca, an Italian missionary and sociologist, told attendees that “only scientific enlightenment and a massive education effort can help overcome sorcery beliefs” in the country.
Fr. Zocca has coordinated a four-year research study on sorcery in Papua New Guinea. The aim of the conference was to explore the Church's attitude toward magic and sorcery, as well as data collected by the Melanesian Institute, which studies indigenous cultures in the region.
The Church is working to provide education and catechesis to indigenous Papua New Guineans to help them overcome superstitious beliefs.
“It gives a bad image of this country and its people,” Bishop Orowae concluded. “Let’s promote the good side of our lives and country, and do away with the bad practices.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

Reopening Aropa Airport to create new opportunities on Bougainville

Prime Minister's Media

The opening of the Kieta (Aropa) Airport is another vital part of Papua New Guinea’s

national infrastructure that will create new opportunities for the men, women and

children of Bougainville.

Speaking at the airport re-opening ceremony alongside Government Ministers and

members of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) last Friday, Prime

Minister Peter O’Neill highlighted the achievement of reopening the airport as part of what he said was a bright future for Bougainville.

“This is a beautiful day for Bougainville and for Papua New Guinea,” O’Neill said to

around 3,000 people attending the opening at the airport.


During his visit to Bougainville early this year, O’Neill had assured the people that

the National Government would work closely with the ABG to re-open the Aropa Airport.

“In January, I announced I was here to honor the National Government’s commitments

and deliver important projects to bring Bougainville back to what it once was,” O’Neill said.

“The National Government’s main focus is to bring services to and improve the welfare

of our people, especially, the generation who missed out completely.”

He said this was a very important day for Bougainville and Papua New Guinea because

 23 years of non-air service to Arawa.

“This infrastructure can now effectively serve the people of Bougainville,” O’Neill

said.

 

“The welfare of the people of Bougainville is a priority for our Government.”

He thanked the National Airports Corporation and the board of directors of Air Niugini,

Airlines PNG and Travel Air for a job well done and for their support towards the

government.

He also acknowledged the good work and commitment of past and present leaders and

apologised for governments losing focus along the way.

“This was to honor what our former leaders, like the Late Sir William Skate, former ABG

President Joseph Kabui, Sir Moi Avei amongst others, set out to do," O'Neill said.
 

“This government has renewed national government commitments and will continue to

honor them."

He said after forming government over two years ago, the National Government strongly

agreed to re-engage and strengthen relations with Bougainville.
 
O’Neill also assured the people that the National Government would continue to

honor every word in the peace agreement.

PM calls on detractors to engage in mature debate

Prime Minister's Media  

Ongoing positive reporting of Papua New Guinea’s economic growth and improvements in living conditions are changing the image of the nation around the
world, according to Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill.
He says the facts speak for themselves and there is no doubt that Papua New Guinea has changed from the “bad old days” when most reporting about the nation was negative.
O’Neill has further called on the Opposition and other detractors to play a positive role in nation building and not seek to undermine economic growth.
He said positive assessments in international media about growth in the nation, including a recent report by the Oxford Business Group, is changing the way people think about Papua New Guinea.
“Papua New Guinea is heading in the right direction because the country has put its faith in our government and the policy programme we have in place to improve lives,” O’Neill said.
“There is no doubt that we have an enormous amount of work still ahead of us, and the government is tackling these challenges in a careful and disciplined manner.
“Task-by-task, issue-by-issue we are dealing with problems that have festered through neglect over decades.
“We have placed an additional 800,000 children in school so that we now have 2,000,000 children receiving an education.
"These children are our doctors, engineers and leaders of the future.
“More people are have access to health care and this will keep our people alive for longer and hold families together.
“We have more police on our streets, more effective rehabilitation in our prisons and better funding for our judiciary.”
The Prime Minister said the New Year provides an opportunity for the Opposition and detractors outside the Parliament to participate in constructive debate on policy, instead of trying to run the economy down for their own political gain.
“As our country enters a new age I call on the Opposition to engage in mature and well-considered discussion about our growth and policy direction.
“I encourage and look forward to robust democratic debate and policy discussion, but let us see a new approach and work together for the future of our nation.”
The Oxford Business Group report provides an independent assessment of the Papua New Guinea’s economic growth and the policy approach of the government in
managing the economy, while also noting challenges to take into consideration.

(http://www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/news/papua-new-guinea-steps-gas)

Western province to own 33% of Ok Tedi mine

Prime Minister's Media

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has announced that the people of Western province will take possession of 33% ownership in Ok Tedi Mine Limited (OTML).
NEC approved the free transfer of equity in OTML following consultation between landowners, Governor Ati Wobiro and Western province officials, and the National Government. 
The balance of the remaining 67% of OTML is owned by people of Papua New Guinea through the State.
“This decision is fair and just, and it will be of great benefit to the people of Western province following decades of neglect,” O’Neill said.
“The people of Western province have long suffered extensive  environmental  harm that has been caused by the Ok Tedi mine.
“It is important that affected communities are recognised and receive compensation, while at the same time efforts continue to improve environmental practices at the mine.
“Representatives from the CMCA communities, mine villages and the Western provincial government  will  be  holding  further  discussions  to  propose  how  the  33%  will  be distributed.

O’Neill said the management and board of OTML would be very independent with the State and Western province together appointing three board members, while the remaining four would be independent experts including the chairman, who must be a Papua New Guinea citizen.
“The board arrangements will be unique for any State-owned enterprise and this is aimed at improving  governance  and  ensuring  transparency  while  bringing  in  worlds  best  practice  to OTML.”
O’Neill said the Ok Tedi mine was unique and is the product of a bygone era of governance and corporate social responsibility.
“It was a different world when Ok Tedi was established, when respect for the environment and downstream health issues were not given the same level of concern as they are today,” he said.
“The unprecedented environmental harm has affected almost the whole of Western province. “We cannot change the past but we have the opportunity to create a brighter future for the
people of Western Province.
“The  government  is  committed  to  improving  the  living  standards  of  the  people  of  Western
province.
“For too long the people of Western province have suffered from treatable diseases and today are facing the challenge of multi drug resistant TB. This is not acceptable.”
O’Neill  said  people  in  Western  province  were  also  determined  to  be  given possession of the substantial amount of money held by the PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) that was subject to an ongoing court hearing in Singapore.
“The Government wants to see the money being held by the PNGSDP returned to the people of Western province,” he said.
“That money should be put to use now to improve the living standards for the people of Western
province and not whittled away by people from outside the province.
“The money in the long term fund held by PNGSDP belongs to the people of Western province and it must be given to them.”
 

 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

PNG PM dragged into corruption scandals

Papua New Guinea’s corruption scandals continue to dog its government, and threaten to envelop Prime Minister Peter O’Neill as he courts Australian investors.
Change comes from the skies in Papua New Guinea, fast-forwarding the arrival of the contemporary world into communities still deep in the cultures formed during millennia of isolation from all but warring neighbours.
In the 1930s it was Australian goldminers flying components of massive dredges into roadless valleys aboard rickety tri-motor planes, watched by near-naked tribespeople.
Last year it was oil major ExxonMobil, using huge Antonov jets to bring in 64-tonne vessels for a natural gas conditioning plant to a specially built 3.2-kilometre airstrip carved out of the jagged Southern Highlands, and local big men calculated the good times in Port Moresby and Cairns flowing from it.
ExxonMobil shipped its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) out to Japan in May, after spending $US19 billion on development. Next year this one project is expected to bring a jump in Papua New Guinea’s gross national product of 15 per cent to 21 per cent, and big oil companies are fighting for ownership of two more gas discoveries in the Papuan Gulf that could add further LNG projects.
It should be a triumphant time for Papua New Guinea and its prime minister, Peter O’Neill, who has led the country since wresting government from the ailing independence leader Sir Michael Somare in 2011 and then putting together a dominating coalition after national elections in 2012. Instead, O’Neill is manoeuvring in a fight for political survival.
When he took power, the former businessman, son of a colonial-era magistrate and his local wife, was hailed as a competent political manager who might get government finances ready to apply the billions of new tax revenues and dividends from LNG to services for the country’s nearly eight million people.
In his last spell as prime minister between 2002 and 2011, Somare had kept public finances in balance, but allowed massive plunder of forests by Malaysian and other loggers while politicians and cronies siphoned funds out of state enterprises and departments. A new study by PNG’s National Research Institute and the Australian National University (titled “A Lost Decade?”) has just reported that while primary school attendance, especially by girls, rose significantly over that period, public health clinics saw fewer people and had fewer medicines in 2012 than in 2002. The picture would be much worse but for the schools and health services run by churches.
Immediately on becoming prime minister in 2011, O’Neill appointed government lawyer Sam Koim to head a new anti-corruption team named Task Force Sweep. Staffed by police, legal and tax officials, it had powers to investigate, prosecute and seize the proceeds of crime. Soon the taskforce was busting open dozens of scams and sending senior politicians, public servants and business figures to the courts. Among them was former Somare government minister Paul Tiensten, sentenced to nine years’ prison in March this year for misappropriating funds.
By October 2012, Koim was reporting that about half of the 6.7 billion kinas (then $3.5 billion) allocated for development in the PNG budget over the previous three years had been lost through corruption. “Given the trend of corruption and seeing that there is nothing on the ground level to show for the expenditure of public funds, we have reason to believe that at least half of the budget we were investigating was wasted, mismanaged or stolen,” he said.
The fight has gone on, with 74 prosecutions launched so far out of some 150 investigations, and 270 million kinas recovered, Koim said last week. But by late 2013, Task Force Sweep arrived at an existential moment. “All this good work almost came to an end when we tried to touch the very person who appointed us,” Koim told The Saturday Paper.
The unit’s audits concluded that payments of 39 million kinas had been made to Port Moresby lawyer Paul Paraka’s firm over 2010 and 2011, while O’Neill was finance minister in the Somare government, for legal advice that had never been provided. A letter instructing officials to make the payment carried O’Neill’s signature. O’Neill says the letter is a forgery; an Australian forensic consultant found it to be authentic. In June, the taskforce obtained arrest warrants against O’Neill.
He had earlier moved to protect himself by appointing a police commissioner widely regarded as more sympathetic, Geoffrey Vaki. The commissioner refused to execute the warrants, while O’Neill replaced his attorney-general, and disbanded Task Force Sweep for acting out of “political” motivation.
The new attorney-general then “discovered” the Paraka payments were legal after all. But Vaki found himself under arrest by anti-fraud officials on a charge of perverting the course of justice. In a welter of cross-cases in the country’s top law courts since then, it has been ruled that Vaki had no power to cancel the warrants in this case and may be in contempt of the court that ordered them. While various appeals and cases continue, O’Neill remains untouched but is a lot closer to being taken in for questioning.
While this goes on, O’Neill battles accusation of wrongdoing on another legal front. The Ombudsman Commission, an independent investigation agency that preceded Task Force Sweep and works closely with it, found earlier this year that the prime minister had flouted regular procedures in obtaining a $1.3 billion loan from the Swiss-based bank UBS. The loan was to allow the government to buy a large shareholding in the Australian firm Oil Search, a partner in the ExxonMobil project and other petroleum discoveries.
The ombudsman and public prosecutor argued successfully in the Supreme Court to have the case referred to a leadership tribunal, an ad hoc panel of three judges (from Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand) that will have the power to dismiss, suspend or fine O’Neill if it finds he acted improperly. It is due to sit on January 26, but last week O’Neill launched a challenge to the prosecutor’s constitutional powers to refer him to such a tribunal. He also argues the loan was validly authorised by the cabinet and in the national interest. The challenge will be heard again next Tuesday.
On February 4, O’Neill emerges from the 30-month “grace period” since his swearing-in of freedom from no-confidence motions. He now has about 100 of the 111 members of parliament onside, but plotting may already have started with Somare quitting government benches over the UBS loan issue.
He also faces a more subdued economy, despite the one-time GDP leap. With the construction phase over, employment at the LNG project has fallen from a peak of 21,000 (including 8500 Papua New Guineans) to about 1000 specialists and security personnel. About 80 per cent of dividends will go to foreign shareholders, and for the first three years most of the PNG tax and dividend flow is committed to repaying borrowings, with government debt and liabilities having doubled to nearly 50 per cent of GDP under O’Neill.
The PNG Treasury forecasts growth back to 2.7 per cent in 2016. This may be the longer-term outlook barring new LNG projects or a sustained rise in the prices of coffee, copra, cocoa and palm oil on which the non-subsistence village economy is based. The PNG economy remains, as Paul Barker of Port Moresby’s Institute of National Affairs puts it, a “development paradox” of world-class resource projects and a population with some of the worst welfare indicators in Asia thanks to poor investment in education, health and police.
Juggling his economic and political problems, O’Neill has just announced a budget for 2015 that cuts back overall spending to allow debt repayment, while increasing the discretionary funds allocated to each MP to hand out in electorates − an entrenchment of pork-barrelling that further undermines state delivery of services.
In a talk last week to a well-attended PNG Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference, O’Neill tried to talk up the investment climate, somewhat damaged by his abrupt September 2013 takeover of the environmentally troubled Ok Tedi gold and copper mine from a trust chaired by Australian economist Ross Garnaut.
As for Task Force Sweep, it, too, went to the courts and obtained a stay against its abolition. But its days seem numbered. “We haven’t got any funding all of this year; we’ve survived on funds carried over from last year,” Sam Koim said. “Now we are running dry this month.”
As O’Neill talked to a packed room of businessmen in Sydney, Koim was in Canberra seeking support for his beleaguered taskforce. He complains that so far Canberra’s agencies have been passive in preventing the flow of corruptly gained funds from Papua New Guinea into Australia, which he has previously called “PNG’s Cayman Islands”. With the Abbott government relying on Port Moresby’s co-operation for its Manus Island detention camp, O’Neill seems to have protected himself on that flank, too. And some of the possible alternative leaders are much more contentious, such as former deputy prime minister Belden Namah.
Papua New Guinea meanwhile continues for the third year at 145 out of 175 countries in Transparency International’s ranking of perceived corruption, and the World Bank’s annual ranking on the “ease of doing business” has Papua New Guinea slipping 22 places since 2011 to 133 out of 189 countries this year.
Its eight million people, growing at a remarkable 3.1 per cent a year, surely deserve better.

Former BP Group E&P CFO joins InterOil board

Energy Global

InterOil Corporation has appointed Dr Ellis Armstrong, former Chief Financial Officer of BP Group's global exploration and production business, as a non-executive director.
Dr Armstrong, 57, is also a non-executive director of Lamprell plc, a diversified engineering and contracting company that is listed on the London Stock Exchange, and Lloyds Register.
InterOil Chairman Chris Finlayson said Dr Armstrong, who would join the board from 1 January 2015, had more than 30 years of international oil and gas experience covering strategy and operations, major integrations, acquisitions and disposals and government relations.
In a long career with BP, Dr Armstrong ran the company's technology group, was the group's Commercial Director and had senior operational roles in the Caribbean and Latin America, Venezuela, Alaska and the North Sea.
He was BP's representative on advisory boards to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Institute of Americas, and was executive sponsor of BP's relationship with Imperial College, London.
Dr Armstrong, a civil engineer from Imperial College, also has a business degree from Stanford University.
Mr Finlayson said Dr Armstrong had a deep background in operational, technical, commercial and financial roles.
"He brings particular strength in analysis, has run significant businesses and regions for BP, and has had considerable exposure to BP's audit committee," Mr Finlayson said.
"Dr Armstrong is an ideal appointment as we continue to transform InterOil into a leading oil and gas explorer and developer in the Asia-Pacific.
"His skills and experience will be invaluable as we continue development of the Elk-Antelope LNG project in Papua New Guinea."

Adapted from press release by Joe Green
Published on 11/12/2014

NBPOL reaches settlement with Pacific Rim

NBPOL

Further to the announcement made on December 5,  2014, New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL) announces that on December11,  2014 a settlement was reached with Pacific Rim Plantation Services Pte Ltd (“PacRim”), a company majority owned and controlled by Alan Chaytor, a director of the company, and with Alan Chaytor himself.
The settlement relates to a potential dispute concerning historic freight rates which had been charged to NBPOL and its group companies and has been signed on terms that are beneficial to the company. The settlement was reached following extensive analysis led by an independent committee of NBPOL nonexecutive directors.
The board of the company considers it to be a full and final settlement of these historic issues.
Chaytor resigned from his directorship and employment with NBPOL, effective December 11,  2014.
The company continues to work with Sime Darby Plantation Sdn Bhd ("Sime Darby Plantation")
regarding the EU Commission's clearance decision in relation to its offer for all the issued and to be
issued shares in NBPOL.
As recently announced, as at December 3,  2014 total acceptances representing 58.7% of NBPOL's voting shares have been received by Sime Darby Plantation.
This figure includes the acceptance in respect of 73,482,619 NBPOL shares held by Kulim (Malaysia) Berhad.
Sime Darby Plantation has confirmed that the 51% minimum acceptance condition in Section 12.1(a)(i) of the offer document has now been satisfied.



About NBPOL
NBPOL is a large scale integrated industrial producer of sustainable palm oil in Australasia,
headquartered in Papua New Guinea (‘PNG’).
It has over 79,800 hectares of planted oil palm estates,over 7,700 hectares of sugar cane and a further 9,200 hectares of grazing pasture; twelve oil mills; two refineries, one in PNG, and one in Liverpool, UK; and a seed production and plant breeding facility.
The company is listed on both the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange and on the Port Moresby Stock Exchange in PNG.
NBPOL is fully vertically integrated, producing its own seed (which it also sells globally), planting,
cultivating and harvesting its own land, and processing and refining palm oil (both in PNG and the UK).
It also contracts directly with its end customers in the EU and arranges shipping of its products.
NBPOL has high regard for the importance of its sustainability credentials.
 It has achieved 100% certification of all estates, mills and smallholders to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (‘RSPO’) standard.
NBPOL continues to be active in proving its performance through its certification to ISO 14001
and its close involvement with other innovative initiatives.
The company is a certified supplier of sustainable palm oil from its entire production base in PNG and Solomon Islands, under the RSPO guidelines.