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Posts Tagged ‘Peter O’Neill’

O’Neill’s illegal land grab: 1372 days and counting…

March 27, 2017 Leave a comment

There is still NO ACTION to reverse the huge SABL land grab. NO ACTION to return the land to customary landholders and NO ACTION to stop the illegal logging in SABL areas.

This is despite repeated statements from the Prime Minister that the leases are illegal and will be cancelled.

It is now 1,372 days since the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement that has allowed foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 50 thousand square kilometres of land.

But for almost four years ago, all we have heard from Prime Minister O’Neill are EMPTY PROMISES that the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

The latest statement from O’Neill was just two weeks ago. On 14 March, O’Neill said all the SABL licenses are illegal in this country” and will be cancelled.

This echoed repeated statements he has made over the past three years. In September 2013, O’Neill said in 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 supposedly 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” 

In 2015 the Chief Secretary stated:

“It is widely known that vast amounts of pristine forest have been logged to enrich a corrupt few people, while landowners have unknowingly lost their most valuable asset – their land”.

On November 4, 2016, O’Neill told Parliament and the Nation:

“I am pleased to say that all the SABL leases to be cancelled, instruction has now gone to the Lands Dept and as of today I can assure you that leases are now being cancelled and where there are projects now existing, we’ve encouraged the landowners to renegotiate many of those leases arrangements that they have made with the developers.

“These leases were given without much thought in the past. As a result, a lot of the landowners stood to lose all their years of generations of ownership over the land that they have had for many years.

“We do not want the rightful landowners lose their rights to land.

“That is why we have instructed the department of Lands and Forestry to cancel all the SABL.”

But, despite all the promises, no action has been taken to cancel the leases, landowners are receiving no support from the government in their battles against the land grabbing and WE ARE STILL WAITING for the logging to be stopped.

For 1,372 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

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

Land Minister Benny Allen swallowed up by the SABL corruption he vowed to fight

March 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Allen swallowed up by corruption

In October 2012, the then new Lands Minister, Benny Allen spoke eloquently about the rampant corruption in his Department that had led to the SABL land grab and other abuses:

I have seen firsthand the blatant abuse of due process thereby promoting corruption and high level of inefficiency within the department of Lands & Physical Planning. The system of land administration is corrupt and dysfunctional.

First, I will implement the policy of zero tolerance on corruption within the Department. Corruption has resulted in the loss of large parcels of land owned both by customary land owners and the State.

As you all are aware, blatant abuse of process facilitated by staff within the Department over the years has led to large areas of customary land being fraudulently leased to foreigners for as long as 99 years throughout the country.

In the interest of protecting Papua New Guinea land from being fraudulently transacted, I will ensure that the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Issuance of Special Agriculture Businesses Leases (SABL) are fully implemented.[1]

Now, more than four years later, not one lease has been cancelled and the Minister has radically changed his position, seemingly swallowed up by the same corruption he vowed to fight.

Rather than ensuring the SABL Commission of Inquiry recommendations are fully implemented and the leases cancelled as he promised, the Minister is now trying to endorse and consolidate the land grab by issuing new leases to the very same companies that stole the land in the first place.

The Minister says his Department is “converting these SABLs into customary land leases through the Incorporated Landowner Group and Voluntary Customary Lands Registration concepts.” [2]

It seems the only way the Prime Minister can now uphold his own promises to ensure the leases are cancelled will be to remove the Lands Minister…

Endnotes
1. National Land Development Conference 
Opening Speech, 12 October 2012
2. Post Courier, 15 March 2017

O’Neill’s illegal logging – 1365 days and counting…

March 20, 2017 2 comments

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

O’Neill’s illegal logging – 1358 days and counting…

March 13, 2017 1 comment

There is still NO ACTION to reverse the huge SABL land grab. NO ACTION to return the land to customary landholders and NO ACTION to stop the illegal logging in SABL areas.

It is now 1,358 days since the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement that has allowed foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 50 thousand square kilometres of land.

Since June 2013, more than three-and-a-half years ago, O’Neill has REPEATEDLY promised us the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013, O’Neill said in 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 supposedly 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” 

In 2015 the Chief Secretary stated:

“It is widely known that vast amounts of pristine forest have been logged to enrich a corrupt few people, while landowners have unknowingly lost their most valuable asset – their land”.

And on November 4, 2016, O’Neill told Parliament and the Nation:

“I am pleased to say that all the SABL leases to be cancelled, instruction has now gone to the Lands Dept and as of today I can assure you that leases are now being cancelled and where there are projects now existing, we’ve encouraged the landowners to renegotiate many of those leases arrangements that they have made with the developers.

“These leases were given without much thought in the past. As a result, a lot of the landowners stood to lose all their years of generations of ownership over the land that they have had for many years.

“We do not want the rightful landowners lose their rights to land.

“That is why we have instructed the department of Lands and Forestry to cancel all the SABL.”

But, despite all the promises, no action has been taken to cancel the leases, landowners are receiving no support from the government in their battles against the land grabbing and WE ARE STILL WAITING for the logging to be stopped.

For 1,358 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

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

Why an ICAC is needed, not another fruitless inquiry

March 10, 2017 1 comment

Source: ACT NOW! 

The Prime Minister’s announcement of an Administrative Inquiry into the Manumanu land deals and naval base relocation is just another exercise in covering up corruption and avoiding justice.

We have seen numerous lengthy and expensive Commission’s of Inquiry over the years but no action to address the corrupt behavior they uncover. It will be the same with the latest inquiry, whether it is termed as a Commission of Inquiry or an Administrative Inquiry.

This is because such inquiries lack a crucial power – the power to take action against those revealed to be involved in corruption; instead all they can do is make recommendations, recommendations that, history tells us, usually get ignored.

Such inquiries are also flawed because their initial timeframes and budgets are often insufficient when they uncover so much wrongdoing. This leads to delays and sometimes the inquiries end up taking several years. They can also lack political independence, being appointed directly by the Prime Minister, and their reports can be hard to access.

This is why Papua New Guinea desperately needs a well-funded Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) with the power to immediately investigate and prosecute allegations of corrupt behaviour.

The Government of Peter O’Neil was elected in 2012 on a promise to combat corruption at all levels through the establishment of an ICAC. It has failed to deliver on that promise, and instead it continues to waste public funds on administrative inquiries whose recommendations are usually never implemented, and sometimes, not even published.

In 2013, the Commission of Inquiry into Special Agricultural Business Lease recommended forty unlawful leases be revoked, but those recommendations continue to be ignored. Crucially the Commission also failed to report on one-third of the leases investigated and failed to identify with clarity the government officers responsible for the unlawful land grab or recommend action against them.

In 2014, there was the Commission of Inquiry into Law Firm Brief Outs, that report has never been published.

Prior to that, a Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance found K 780 million in public funds had been stolen and recommended the prosecution of a list of 35 persons.  Almost none of those persons have been arrested or charged.

And whatever happened to the Commission of Inquiry into the Investment Corporation, Defence Force Retirement Fund and National Provident Fund? Where are those reports now and why has so little action been taken?

Corruption in this country is prevalent in all sectors of society and its impacts are far-reaching! Corrupt activities are not just carried out by public office holders. It is really a collaborative effort of individuals from elected officials, appointed public and constitutional office holders, clergymen, civil servants, foreign and local companies, business associates and even family members of these individuals!

It is for this reason a well-resourced, self-funded, Independent Commission Against Corruption with wide powers is needed to investigate and prosecute corrupt individuals – not another pointless inquiry.

Jimmy Maladina’s Australian silk recruited by PM O’Neill to lead Duma/Pok inquiry

March 8, 2017 2 comments

Having promised a Commission of Inquiry, under the predicted Chairmanship of (Rtd) Judge Graham Ellis, who cut his teeth in the National and Supreme Court during the 1990s, working a number of high profile anti-corruption inquiries, PM O’Neill has been in reverse gear ever since. 

This culminated first in an announcement by the Attorney General, that his government had somehow overlooked court proceedings barring any Commission of Inquiry from being convened.

John Griffin QC

Then we learnt yesterday that an ‘administrative inquiry’ would be convened, under the leadership of John Griffin QC.

John Griffin QC is most well-known for dashing the hopes of the country, when he managed to secure for his client Jimmy Maladina, a suspended sentence after the latter confessed to misappropriating K2.65 million during his tenure as Chairman of the National Provident Fund, a time when he was joined at the corporate hip to Peter O’Neill. The court let Maladina go with a suspended 8 year sentence, and a 2 year good behaviour bond. On the other hand, a middle man Maladina acted through received 6 years prison.

Later Griffin managed to get even Maladina’s conviction overturned by the Court, despite the fact Maladina ‘admitted freely that he had committed the offence’.

Given Jimmy Maladina declared himself bankrupt, and claims to have sold off his Australian properties to pay restitution – it can only be assumed Maladina has good friends who could pay for a silk of Griffin’s stature.

However, with a budget of K2 million for this ‘administrative inquiry’ into Duma/Pok, paying for high priced silks will not be a problem.

We are told the inquiry began on 7 March, and will continue for 4 weeks, with a finishing date of 28 March. Ahem, that’s actually 3 weeks!

For this 3 week work period,  the commission will have a budget of K666,666 – perhaps an appropriate enough sum! Even if the entire commission team furiously shovelled kina into an open fire, they couldn’t physically burn this sum of cash in three weeks.

If we assume Griffin QC is paid K85,000 per week – the sort of sum a QC fetches – that gets us through K255,000 over the three week period. You would need a team of 8 QCs working around the clock to expend this K2 million budget.

We assume in the interests of ‘accountability and transparency’, to quote the PM, he will publish the inquiry’s budget in full?

As we watch O’Neill’s stance over Manumanu dilute on a daily basis, it must be asked – did the PM overplay his original hand against Duma and Pok, and are we now seeing all parties backtrack so they can resume cordial relations at the top of the trough following this year’s national elections? 

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 1351 days and counting…

March 6, 2017 Leave a comment

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Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

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