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'Hear me out': Somare lashes perceived foes


UNDER THE newspaper headline Sir Michael gives judiciary, NGOs and the media a tongue-lashing, PNG's prime minister has tried to find some scapegoats for his recent travails.

His comments hit out at the judiciary over delays in dealing with high profile legal cases and at NGO's and media because of their ‘negative’ response to his government's amendments to the Environment Act.

Sir Michael is quoted as saying he is outraged at the constant delays in processing court cases involving himself, son Arthur and former chief secretary, Isaac Lupari.

But it could be argued that Somare is the author of his own discontent. If his lawyers had not constantly raised objections and delays, these cases would have been dealt with by now.

If he had provided sufficient resources to the Ombudsman Commission to allow it to perform its proper role, these irritating delays would not have occurred.

On the issue of amendments to the Environment Act, Somare accused the media of misinforming the public and described NGOs as an unelected group representing no one.

He said the amendments were introduced after getting “the best advice from three best brains”. This will hearten the populous, I’m sure.

Sir Michael went on to explain that he had gone to China four years ago and convinced the Chinese government that they should invest $800 million in developing the Ramu nickel mine.

“The government will lose a lot. No country can come to PNG and put $800 million on the spot,” he said.

Again, Somare has only himself to blame. There wasn't full and open debate on the amendment prior to the vote being rushed through Parliament, and this served to raise suspicions about his motives.

Surely the people of PNG deserve to be protected by robust environment laws. If there was effective legislation already in place, people wouldn't need to take legal action to stop the government and the developer from potentially destroying their environment.

If Sir Michael did indeed convince the Chinese to develop the mine, and not vice versa, why didn't he use those four years to pass proper environmental legislation to protect his people.

Instead the people had to take action themselves and then cop a prime ministerial blast for doing the right thing.

Clearly Somare has been caught out by honourable people and is behaving badly to try to cover his tracks.

“Hear me out,” says Sir Michael.

Maybe that should be, “See me off”.


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Paul Oates

It is my understanding that Oz got rid of the Privy Council link about 30 years ago. It was really an anachronistic forum for those with money to try a last ditch stand to overturn a court decision they didn't like in their own 's country.

The Queen is Australia's monarch but does not have any power in Australia. Our country's Head of State is the Governor-General who, in a purely ceremonial way, represents the monarch.

The Queen's position in PNG is set out in the PNG Constitution but, in practice, she would only take advice from the elected government of the day.

The PNG GG's position is very clearly spelt out in the PNG Constitution and the incumbent is to take the advice of the NEC. But what happens if the NEC were to be under threat of an impending court action and has been stood aside until a court decision has been made?

There are only two recent occasions I have heard of when a GG actually took some executive action.

One was in 1975 in Oz when the GG's powers were used, in an entirely constitutional way, to bring on an early election. I don't believe this 'reserve power' is included in the PNG Constitution.

The other instance was in Grenada, when their GG asked for assistance from the US to prevent a 'foreign' military takeover of his country. Apparently the Brits at the time were otherwise engaged or something and were happy for the US to go in as a proxy.

Mind you, it does make you think, doesn't it?

Reginald Renagi

Jaymz - The Queen of PNG is the same person as the same Queen of Australia, New Zealand, England and Canada and other Commonwealth countries.

I have not heard of the Privy council for years, maybe others on PNG Attitude have heard whether PNG has an appeal to the Privy Council dormant somewhere?


Na Misis Kwin wantaim 'Privy Kaunsil' i stap yet long lo bilong PNG? O ol Nasionalis i rausim dispela protection pinis?

[Are the Queen and the Privy Council still available under PNG law? Or have the nationalists got rid of them? - KJ]

Paul Oates

PM's explanation misleading


I REFER to the prime minister's comment about the misinterpretation of the amended Environmental Act.

I believe it is the prime minister who has misinterpreted the amendments or he has been ill-advised as to the nature and the effect of the amendments.

Whilst the amendments seek to give effect to the national goals and directive principles, particularly goal No. 3 national sovereignty and goal No 4 environment and natural resources, they in fact, make a complete U-turn with regard to the basic fundamental purpose which these goals were initially proposed by the constitutional planning committee in its final
report tabled in 1974.

I appreciate that to some extent, the government must make allowance for investors' interests.
But with regard to the PM's statement that "no landowner rights have been curtailed" by these amendments, I must say he is wrong.

In fact, landowner rights have not only been "curtailed", they have, in effect, been removed.
I refer the PM to sections 69A and 69B of these amendments which expressly make an action by developer lawful and unchallengeable in any court, regardless of whether such action(s) directly or indirectly lead to environmental damage or any other damage giving rise to what would otherwise be a civil action for tort or any other civil interest that may be enforced.
The same goes to sections 87A to 87E of the amendments.

And no, Mr Prime Minister, the amendments do not merely strengthen the already stringent compliance policies under the principal act, in fact, they allow for by-passing of these policies by vesting in the director of
environment exclusive power and discretion to grant certificates left, right and centre, upon his own satisfaction of whatever reports, findings or reasons given for any activity prescribed under the amendments.

Further to this, the director's decision cannot be reviewed by any court or tribunal by effect of these new amendments.

Hence, Mr Prime Minister, the question thus arises, what is happening to the democracy that you so valiantly fought for.

Perhaps, the prime minister can revisit the Constitution which he is said to be the "father" and explain to the people what becomes of their right under section 37(11).

And whilst at it, he can explain to his people what and how these amendments can be said to be "reasonably justifiable in a democratic society, having proper regard for the right and dignity of mankind".

I call on the relevant authorities stipulated under section 19 of the Constitution to seriously consider seeking the view of the Supreme Court regarding the Constitutional validity of these amendments.

It is only under section 19 that Papua New Guineans can apply to the court to challenge this new law.

Ariins, Port Moresby

Reginald Renagi

Joseph: When you are the leader of the nation like the Prime Minister, the bck stops with you. As the Captain of our State Ship, the PM bears the full and total responsibility of any decision by his government.

He must now accept this executive judgement call by his government and try to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. It is not about being defensive but being responsible and accountable for all your decisions whether directly , or indirectly.

I am not a fan of anyone in the PNG parliament but call the shots where they may like Effrey of the ACT NOW Team. Well done, Effrey, keep fighting to put the pressure on the nation's leaders at all times - you have the people's support.

Ross Wilkinson

It was US President Harry S Truman who put a sign on his desk in the Oval Office stating "The Buck Stops Here" - which has periodically been used by succeeding US Presidents.

It was intended to say that responsibility for bureaucratic decisions ultimately rested with the Head of State. It is based on the Westminister model of ministerial responsibility.

Somare could do well to heed that example, however distasteful that must be.

Martin Maden

Sir Michael Somare: "No country can come to PNG and put $800 million on the spot”.

I'd really like to know where the exact spot is where this $800 million hit poor PNG. It is also possible these monies had the side effect of severely hitting private bank accounts in Singapore, where our hospitals and schools are built.

In any case, I'm sure we are all responsible for losing this precious $800 million because we do not know where it is parked. Does anyone have some idea?

Paul Oates

Hi Joseph - If you read the article, it is Somare who started balming everyone else for his problems. If Somare is not to blame, clearly he leads people who are. Who is therefore ultimately resposible? The person who appoints those who are at fault, or those who are appointed?

The underlying question must surely be: 'Who is the next in line and will they be any better than Somare?'

Husat narapela em inap long lukautim PNG bihain a? [So who else is up to the job of leading PNG?]

Joseph Walter Mautu Pakei

Why is everything blamed on Somare? Somare tasol emi gat decision-making capability in PNG? [Is Somare the only one who makes decisions in PNG?]

Jesus, is everyone sufferring Social Immunity Disorder and blaming everything on Somare and his son?

[Signed] Die Hard Somare Fan

Effrey Dademo

"No country can come to PNG and put $800 million on the spot". So true, Sir Michael... Makes me also wonder why they did come to this country and put $800 on the spot...hmm.

Secondly, no one is against the mine - if you can read what the landowners are actually saying, they do not want the dumping of mine waste in their seas.

You, Sir Michael, are the one stopping the mine because you insist on using a waste disposal method that the landowners do not want used, as it will directly impact their way of living!

Hello? Is anybody home?

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