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Posts Tagged ‘Department of Land’

Compulsory purchase scandal: Firewall Logistics warned not to deal with land group

April 16, 2015 1 comment

The Department of Land has recently gazetted the compulsory purchase of 12.5 hectares of customary land known as Portion 2467C. The land lies between the Napanapa Oil Rifinery and the Exxon Mobil LNG plant just outside Port Moresby.

Gazette No.G146_4Mar15_p1According to the notice signed by Lands Secretary Romilly Kila Pat, the compulsory purchase was made “for the purpose of a contract of sale agreement between Ohobiduduare Land Group of Roka Village and Firewall Logistics”.

Yet, according to media reports, the Central Provincial Lands Court in a ruling on 2nd September 2014, declared the Kuriu Clan as the major landowning group of Portion 2467C. The Court also found the land had been illegally registered under a Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL) by the Ohobiduduare Property Development Company.

The Central Provincial Lands Court ordered a number of companies, including Firewall Logistics, to stop making payments to the Ohobiduduare Property Development Company as they were illegally occupying land which the Ohobiduduare did not own.

Despite these findings it appears the Ohobiduduare are still claiming ownership on Portion 2467C and it is on the basis of those claims that the compulsory purchase order has been made.

In its company literature Firewall Logistics make a big play of its understanding of the importance of customary land ownership and the connection of people to their land. Firewall claims it is “passionate about community inclusion” and states:

“Doing business in PNG requires a high degree of community involvement. Inclusion lies at the very core of our company DNA” which includes “demonstrating respect for the local landowners’ indisputable connection to their land”.

Time will surely reveal whether such commitments have been honored in the company’s acquisition of Portion 2467C. An acquisition made under the hand of Rimilly Kila Pat who has been linked to numerous unlawful and illegal land deals and was recommended for criminal prosecution for his role in the SABL land grab.

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 660 days and counting…

April 15, 2015 Leave a comment

660

There has still been NO ACTION to cancel the huge SABL land grab, revoke the unlawful leases or stop the illegal logging in Papua New Guinea.

It is now 660 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be cancelled.

On June 24, 2013 O’Neill was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

SIX60

O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013 O’Neill told Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision cancelling the leases, O’Neill said

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people” 

But, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

For 660 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and he has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

Crucially he has failed to take any action to remove the corrupt public servants responsible for the land grab or distance himself from the politicians, including key Minister’s, complicit in the illegal deals and who are now blocking any positive action to revoke the leases and stop the logging.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.

cartoon showing Peter O'Neill being fed by Rimbunan Hijau while he sits on a pile of SABL reports

Australian owned company beneficiary of compulsory purchase order

April 14, 2015 2 comments

The Department of Lands has used the compulsory purchase powers in the Lands Act to acquire a 12.5 hectare block of customary land outside Port Moresby and grant a 99-year lease to a company called Firewall Logistics – read more here.

Gazette No.G146_4Mar15_p1According to the Gazette Notice signed by Lands Secretary Romilly Kila Pat, the land was previously held under an SABL lease but has been compulsorily acquired to ‘guarantee security of tenure’. SABL leases have been exposed as a fraudulent and illegal land grab by a Commission of Inquiry.

Firewall Logistics describes itself as:

an experienced and skilled team of project management experts, anthropologists and mining, oil and gas exploration specialists

The company is owned by two Australians, Arthur Llewllyn Jones and Craig Douglas McConaghy. They are also the directors of the company, together with another Australian, Brendan Joseph Cannon,.

Although foreign owned, Firewall Logistics is listed with the Investment promotion Authority as a local PNG company.

dudley street

Cannon’s home in Brisbane was valued at $1.3 million back in 2010

Jones and McConaghy are listed as residents of Port Moresby and Goroka respectively, while Cannon lives in a million dollar house in the Brisbane suburb of Sherwood.

Despite acquiring the customary land through a compulsory acquisition process, Firewall insists on its website the company is “Passionate about community inclusion”

“Doing business in PNG requires a high degree of community involvement. Inclusion lies at the very core of our company DNA” which includes “demonstrating respect for the local landowners’ indisputable connection to their land”.

Kila Pat was identified in the SABL Commission of Inquiry as being the facilitator of numerous illegal and unlawful land deals and was recommended to be “held accountable for his unlawful conduct and actions”.

The government has still not taken any action over the unlawful SABL land grab; has not cancelled the illegal leases; has not stopped the illegal logging; and has not held any public servants accountable.

Compulsory purchase used to seize land and replace flawed SABL lease

April 13, 2015 6 comments

px-logo land grabbing

It seems the Department of Lands could be about to embark on a scheme to replace the now discredited and unlawful SABL leases with new land titles acquired using the compulsory acquisition powers in the Lands Act.

The SABL Commission of Inquiry has exposed how the Department of Lands fraudulently issued 99-year leases over large parcels of customary land totaling some 5.2 million hectares. The SABL leases were issued to foreign companies without following the mandated processes in the Lands Act and without the informed consent of customary landowners.

The Commission of Inquiry recommended the illegal leases be revoked but the government has failed to follow this advice. The only SABL leases that have been revoked are those that have been challenged through the courts and declared null and void by a judge. But the companies holding SABL leases remain nervous that their unlawfully acquired rights could be extinguished at some point in the future and are looking for ways to protect their positions. And its seems that once again, it could be the Department of Lands that comes to their assistance.

Gazette No.G146_4Mar15_p1The Department has recently used the compulsory purchase powers in the Lands Act to acquire Portion 2467C, a block of water front customary land outside Port Moresby that was previously subject to an SABL lease. The Department has issued a new 99 year lease over 12.5 hectares, now called Portion 2703C, to a company called Firewall Logistics. The compulsory acquisition was gazetted in a notice dated 4 March, 2015 (see below).

This appears to be an attempt to override any flaws in the original SABL lease and insure the company gets a defensible title to the land.

The compulsory purchase powers in the Lands Act are specifically supposed to be used only for public purposes such as acquiring land for schools, clinics or subsistence agriculture. To use those powers to benefit a private company seems to be a breach of the Lands Act and unlawful. But acting unlawfully is something that is very much the norm in the Lands Department.

The land that has been compulsorily acquired sits alongside two other land portions also subject to SABL leases and that were investigated by the Commission of Inquiry.

The CoI found Portions 2465C and 2466C were fraudulently obtained by the Kassman family under three SABL leases. The Commission concluded:

“There was misrepresentation and fraud involved in the whole process” [Report p164], and landowner signatures were forged in “a criminal act” [p150].

“The whole process was riddled with defects and flaws” [p157] and “it was obvious that officers from DLPP [including] Romily Kila-Pat deliberately decided to ignore and by-pass the existing protocols and practices” [p153].

The CoI recommended:

“those responsible must be held accountable for their unlawful conduct and actions” [p165]

Of course nobody has been held accountable, and ironically Romilly Kila Pat (despite his numerous crimes) is still Secretary for the Department of Lands and, as the delegate of the Minister, issued the notice of Compulsory Acquisition for the new lease.

Gazette No.G146_4Mar15_p1

Gazette No.G146_4Mar15_p2

Government shifting blame for land grab onto the victims and refusing to act

April 11, 2015 1 comment

Despite the Prime Minister’s sweet talk the government has no intention of reversing the SABL land grab and will instead continue to defend the foreign companies illegally logging our forests and the corrupt public servants who put them there…

Give the Land back_banner

Government should not shift the blame on SABL Land Grab

ACT NOW!

It has been 655 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was informed the SABLs were unlawful and should be cancelled. But instead of taking action to reverse the illegal land grab the government is now blaming landowners for creating the problem and claiming it has to defend the interests of foreign logging companies.

act nowSpeaking on a national radio, the Secretary for the Department of Justice has responded directly to ACT NOW’s call for the SABLs to be cancelled and land returned to customary landowners, by saying the landowners were at fault for entering the leases. This directly contradicts the findings of the Commission of Inquiry and previous promises from the Prime Minister.

The Commission of Inquiry into the SABL land grab uncovered serious irregularities and unlawful actions by public servants in issuing the leases, however to- date nothing has been done to cancel the illegal leases or stop the logging. Instead, all we have had is sweet-talking.

In September 2013, O’Neill told Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In May 2014, O’Neill referred to the SABL’s as a ‘scam’ and in June 2014 he announced an NEC decision cancelling the leases, saying:

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people”

But on Thursday’s (9th April) PNGFM Mauswara Program on logging and SABL the government position seemed to have changed. ACT NOW! publicly urged the Prime Minister and the government to fast track the process to cancel the leases and give back the 5.2 million hectares of customary land acquired under the SABL scam.

In response, the Secretary for Department of Justice and Attorney General, Dr. Lawrence Kalinoe called in and blamed the landowners for entering into the SABL deals. Further, he said, “canceling SABL leases is not something easy as claimed by ACT NOW! The State has already incurred liabilities totaling K80 million”.

Who facilitated the incurring of these State liabilities and who are they owed to? What has the Government done about those corrupt officials still on Government payroll?

The Commission of Inquiry identified all the abuses in the Department of Lands and the officers responsible for the fraudulent and unlawful leases but the Government it seems now prefers to blame the landowners rather than try and protect their interests. If the SABL deals were illegal as uncovered in the CoI report and in various court cases, then there should be no case against the State as claimed by Kalinoe.

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 655 days and counting…

April 10, 2015 Leave a comment

655

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

cartoon showing Peter O'Neill being fed by Rimbunan Hijau while he sits on a pile of SABL reports

SABL_billboard

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 644 days and counting…

March 30, 2015 Leave a comment

644

There has still been NO ACTION to cancel the huge SABL land grab, revoke the unlawful leases or stop the illegal logging in Papua New Guinea.

It is now 644 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be cancelled.

On June 24, 2013 O’Neill was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013 O’Neill told Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision cancelling the leases, O’Neill said

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people” 

But, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.

For 644 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and he has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

Crucially he has failed to take any action to remove the corrupt public servants responsible for the land grab or distance himself from the politicians, including key Minister’s, complicit in the illegal deals and who are now blocking any positive action to revoke the leases and stop the logging.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

 

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