Home > Corruption, Human rights, Land, LNG, Papua New Guinea > Australian giant, Orica operating on illegal SABL land

Australian giant, Orica operating on illegal SABL land

December 12, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments


Orica, one of the leading publicly-owned companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, is operating on land outside Port Moresby acquired through illegal Special Agriculture Business Leases (SABLs), according to local landholders.

The accusations have come from the people of Papa village, close to the Exxon Mobil LNG site, who have seen their land illegally occupied for quarrying and provision of other LNG support services. The villagers are now demanding their land be given back.

Villagers hand their demands to Orica security guards

Villagers hand their demands to Orica security guards

SABL leases are at the centre of a huge land grab in PNG in which more than 5 million hectares of land has been illegally acquired from customary landowners. A government instigated Commission of Inquiry, which reported in 2013, found almost all the leases are unlawful with widespread instances of fraud and a general failure by government Departments to follow proper procedures.

According to the Commission of Inquiry, the land on which Orica is said to be operating, Portions 2465C and 2485C, was acquired through “misrepresentation and fraud” [SABL Commission of Inquiry Final Report at p164] and the forging of landholders signatures “was a criminal act” [at p151]. The lease was “fraudulent and improper” [at p156] and government officers “deliberately decided to ignore and by-pass the existing protocols and practices” in a process “riddled with defects and flaws” [at p157].

The Commission of Inquiry called for those responsible for the unlawful leases to be held to account and recommended the SABLs be revoked. [SABL Commission of Inquiry Final Report p 143-166 and p166-174. See also SABL Case Study 11: The Kassman family and their fraudulent LNG Land deals]

The PNG government has promised several times since 2013 to cancel all the SABL leases and return land to customary landholders, but has so far failed to implement those promises.

Orica claims on its website “Our commitment to the safety, health and wellbeing of … the communities in which we operate underpins everything we do”. But the people of Papa want Orica off their land and on Thursday they held a peaceful protest march to the premises where Orica and another company, Longevity Commitment Reliability Group operate.

The Papa landholders are calling on the government to honour its promises and take action quickly to formally cancel the special agriculture business leases over their land.

Chairman of the local integrated lands group Vanemate, Joseph Baeau, said Parliament had already moved to cancel all SABLs and revert the titles back the landowners therefore the companies should not still be on their land.

“We the people and all other concerned landowners in Papa village carried out this protest to fight for our land and also make awareness on the status of land leases,” Mr Baeau said.

“We are calling on the Minister responsible to fast track all formalities to effect cancellation and notices to illegal lease holders,” Mr Baeau said.

Orica is one of Australia’s oldest companies and is, it claims, the global leader in mining and civil services, with a workforce of around 11,500, servicing customers across more than 100 countries.

  1. Yoboi Joe
    December 12, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Indeed government lacks wisdom by not honoring what it says would do.It’s a headache for us small people. When one lacks wisdom… pride overtakes and injustice and unrighteousness rules.

  2. December 13, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Another revolting Australian company doing evil in Papua New Guinea.

    There head office is at

    Orica Limited Head Office

    1 Nicholson Street
    East Melbourne
    Victoria 3002 Australia

    Would you accept us taking over their Head Office like they have taken over your land?

  3. December 13, 2016 at 7:38 am

    If this is correct then his information needs to be shared with the Australian Stock Exchange. As a listed company Orica are obliged to keep shareholders (and the public) informed of any material matters that may affect the company. Also share this information with the Australian business media, investor associations and forums. Orica will care about their share price and keeping shareholders on side more than anything else so this is where they need to be targeted.

    If fraud has been committed then the police should be investigating and prosecuting any offenders whoever they may be.

    Australia has strict anti bribery laws that apply to Australian companies operating overseas: https://www.ag.gov.au/CrimeAndCorruption/Foreignbribery/Pages/default.aspx ( the US, UK and others also have similar laws).

  4. John Munnull Jr
    December 15, 2016 at 12:37 am

    To my mind, the simple solution to SABL is to set a limit to the hectares of the land to be leased. Make it a simillar size to any current residential or business State Lease issued by the Dept of Lands. This will avoid SABL being issued to cover Mountains and Valleys.

    Furthermore, isn’t there some law in place for the Forestry Department to regulate logging companies and being responsible for looking after the affairs/welfare of landowners?

    If so, why fix something that ain’t broken under the pretex of SABL.

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