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Brown: miners’ influence is ‘very troubling’

BY PAUL OSBORNE

AUSTRALIAN GREENS leader Senator Bob Brown says he's concerned at the growing influence of Australian mining firms in PNG.

A year out from PNG national elections, the United Resources Party (URP) reportedly raised $600,000 at a weekend function in Port Moresby attended by a number of international business leaders including one of Australia's richest men, Clive Palmer.

The URP has six members of parliament including Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma, Environment and Conservation Minister Benny Allen and Tourism Minister Guma Wau.

Mr Palmer, who owns half the PNG-focused oil and gas company Chinampa Exploration, reportedly told the function PNG was entering "a new era".

"There is a lot of opportunity here and the government must create the right environment," he said

Senator Brown, who visited PNG two weeks ago, told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday that the growing influence of Australian mining companies was troubling.

"It is very, very troubling ... in a marvellous country like PNG where democracy ought to be based on a fair go for everybody," Senator Brown said.

"I'm very concerned about that and ... will be continuing to raise this issue in parliament."

Mr Palmer is the single biggest contributor to the Liberal National Party in Queensland and in 2009-10 donated $500,000 to the federal Liberal Party.

A spokesman for Mr Palmer told AAP he was unavailable for comment as he was in Hong Kong.

Source: Australian Associated Press

Comments

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Gelab Piak

This is another trend that highlights another trend; which is the Police Force being 'hired' by mining companies.

In PNG the Police Force- the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) is made up of three different sectoral groups: normal constabulary, task forces, and mobile squads (the MS as they are known).

The constabulary does normal law and order in towns, cities, etc, while the task forces are formed in each town, comprising the best trained officers in that town or district.

They respond to robberies and other big crimes and organised crime. They can be ruthless and brutal. They come under the command of the Provincial Police Commander (PPC).

Now to the MS: They are very well trained to contain any situation: robbery, tribal fight, riot, large fight (especially at rugby matches), anything.

They carry out covert missions on suspected drug dealers, peddlers and smuggling routes. They do regular regional patrols, maintaining peace and normalcy. They have country-wide jurisdiction.

Their trucks are marked only as MS08, MS14, MS16, etc. They come from different areas, and demonstrate 'little cultures' like red-striped MS vehicles in Mendi, white striped in Lae, etc, so that when people see they fear, i.e., they say 'mobiles from Mendi have come'.

People know mobiles from Mendi are brutal and ruthless, so they fear. They also launch operations in collaboration with the PNGDF, like Sunset Merona in Vanimo.

They are the elite of PNG national security forces, and pose the greatest threat yet to PNG's security, which the government and Security Minister have failed to foresee.

The MoU's signed between Esso Highlands and RPNGC for MS services, Ok Tedi Mining Ltd and RPNGC, and Barrack Gold and RPNGRC, must be revoked and declared null and void.

The 'hiring' by companies of the MS has created law and order problems for the rest of the country, because the MS are based at strategic locations in the country (Port Moresby, Rabaul, Lae and Hagen, Piango, Mendi, just to name some bases) where they are to monitor the law and order situation.

Their so called 'hiring' has created law and order loop holes, which criminals are taking advantage of.

This is just an overview of the PNGRC mobile squads. Where does PNG stand when our elite forces are hired by corporations?

I tell you this country has gone to the dogs already. You can imagine what follows when people try to talk for their rights, especially land owners of mining, logging, and huge project areas.

So what happen when people's cries are not heard? And when their own government has turned against them? This leads to many forms of oppression and suppression.

My people (PNGeans in the streets and villages) are suffering as I sit here and write. Why are TB, Malaria and infant mortality rated the biggest killers in PNG. It's because people are suffering.

In reality, they can't access proper health services. In Lae and Port Moresby, street kids and the poor people are a constant reminder of the suffering that the simple people are going through.

Mind you, the gap between rich and poor is much wider. And to add to all that worry is the current trend of corruption, not only in Parliament but in business, public service, awarding of contracts and many other things.

Phil Fitzpatrick

Keith Winchcombe was known as Masta Speed, a reflection on his driving habits. One avoided getting in a Land Rover with him and made sure you weren't on the road when he was behind the wheel. Wonder if he has mellowed.

The classic, of course, is the PWD boss called Bates in Daru. Olsem apsa lutli tru Harry.

Harry Topham

This thread seems to have wandered away from the original topic but the ensuing comments on language was too good an opportunity not to warrant a suitable reply.

My understanding of the pidgin word masta is that, it originated in German times as meaning the title Mr.
Europeans did not invent Melanesian pidgin English and it evolved locally and is in a continual stage of evolution as a language as is evident in recent posts by Martyn.

In my time in PNG, the usage of marijuana was virtually unknown in rural communities but once introduced it did not take long for a new word for this substance to become the lingua franca by adding spark to the pidgin word for tobacco: brus.

I recall many many years ago some what misguided bureaucrats tried to correct words in pidgin which on the surface appeared to have racial connotations attaching i.e. the word meri when used in matrimonial context was to be replaced by the word wife.

Tried that once and got the reply " Husat dispela wife samting" so I gave up on the new political correctness.

A lot of people underestimate the savy of PNG people as their inventiveness to satirise circumstances is quite remarkable.

In one area I worked my boss was known as Masta Shovel due to to his remarkable endeavors in building airstrips and rural roads.

When as a young liklik Kiap I ventured out to build roads my nickname became Masta liklik shovel.

Language is a strange beast and will find its own path without any direction by would be social engineers besides interference can have disastrous outcomes.

Several years ago I was doing some work for a volunteer health organisation populated by young feminist social workers and was corrected when I used the word manholes in a conversation and told the correct word was people holes.

My reply, I think using a word like that would have connotations outside that for which your original intentions so meant.

And finally as a completely irrelevant aside: I am intrigued how new words such as the word"Absolutely" has evolved to becoming everyday usage.

I cringe every time I hear some one being interviewed about some serious issue as to how they feel they will perform in some upcoming sporting event "Oh Absolutely and most definitely".

When will some one introduce a new catch phrase to put me out of my misery as these words have long outlived their original intentions.

Peter Kranz

Paul - I meant to say that you should not withdraw from further comment. Your contributions are valuable.

Some comments are made by people in the spur of the moment and I believe the vast majority of people visiting this site will continue to be grateful for your thoughts.

It would be a sad day indeed if we did not feel able to freely express our opinions. Wakai wei.

There is a feeling in PNG that waitmen were, in the colonial past, regarded as privileged.

I remember being shown some of the old records in the 'New Guinea Collection' in the library at UPNG (they are bloody amazing) and being told they were reports from 'time bilong masta' and was given a rather querulous look.

I did feel ashamed.

Peter Kranz

Words mean different things to different people. I am sure my old aunties were not using the term 'masta' as a racist tag - they meant it as a term of respect, much like I called them 'mana' (Simbu for mother).

But it hurt me as I assumed it to be a term for 'waitman'. However I believe they were not being racist in any way. In fact I never experienced overt racism in PNG, unlike Australia.

So we learn.

"If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a different world."

Paul Oates

Thanks Phil. I'm much relieved. We clearly went through some similar circumstances in the past.

Cheers, Paul

Phil Fitzpatrick

I'm not sure where the term 'masta' originated; perhaps it came out of the plantation industry. Whatever its source its meaning amongst those to whom it was applied was very apparent.

On the other hand I don't think the old ladies who applied it to Peter were particularly familiar with its overt meaning; it was just a term to describe a white man.

You don't hear it much today, except sometimes from the odd lapun. Its not a term whose passing needs lamenting.

A certain Australian local government officer in my time used it to address the young patrol officers under his wing - that brought home the absurdity of it to me quite well.

As for Paul providing patronising advice on the blog I can't for the life of me think of one example. I've always found his articles learned and well thought out, even when I disagree with his line of argument.

The blog wouldn't be the same without you, Paul.

David Kitchnoge

PNG is a three tier economy (formal, informal and subsistence) and foreigners must stay clear of our internal politics and allow us to try and bridge the gaps in a more sustainable and responsible manner that respects our people.

We must bridge the gaps using methods that are reasonable to our realities on the ground. And not by employing bullying tactics in the disguise of development that actually serve our rich political benefactors from elsewhere and which have no relevance to our own people.

The reckless amendments to the Environment Act are a case in point.

The process of bridging the vast economic gaps will not happen overnight. And that is a fact responsible Papua New Guineans must learn to accept.

There is no magic wand. We must build our economy and our country from the ground up. Slowly but surely!

Paul Oates

Hi Peter - I sense and sympathise with your frustration. In response to a comment you made on another subject, I too had a problem on being called ‘masta’ however I understood that it was an anachronism.

It was also pronounced where I lived in rural PNG as ‘masa’, so I accepted that as a Tokpisin term it merely stood for ‘waitman’.

The difficulty is that those of us who care are sometimes misread in our motives. For some years I have been hoping that my small contributions on this and other blogs may help coalesce the thoughts of others and also prompt some lively and constructive debate.

I’m a little taken aback when I read a recent insinuation by someone and included in another topic that contributions from a ‘lapun’ such as myself, may be thought of as being patronising and unhelpful.

Nothing could be further from my intentions however if this is so, then perhaps I should withdraw from future discussions and contributions?

PNG Attitude has developed and expanded over the short time Keith has made it available to include many PNG people, some of whom are their country’s future leaders.

I consider it a privilege to have been able to discuss matters as an equal and considering my meagre education standards, that’s not something to be sneezed at.
______________

Paul, of course, is one of our most valued contributors - a person who is regularly commended by Papua New Guinean readers for his wisdom, experience and commitment to PNG - KJ

Peter Kranz

All I am saying is that PNG has been abused and misused by many foreign interests for many years.

And what do the local people have to show for this?

It is a sad state of affairs when PNG has one of the worst infant and mother mortality rates in the world despite decades of aid from foreign countries. Shame.

Peter Kranz

The issue appears to be Australian companies working initially in cahoots with Chinese companies, who have the capital to invest (eg Ramu Nickel).

Now the Chinese can work on their own without an Australian intro, so the likes of Palmer are getting worried about being sidelined. Maybe the opportunity for Australia has passed.

Brown has missed the mark in focusing only on Australian miners. What about the Canadians, Americans, Chinese, South Africans?

As Palmer said - "That is why I am here; it's all happening in PNG," he said. "This is the promised land, and with a stable government, and support from the community, it can do anything.

"You have gas, oil and other resources. There is a lot of opportunity here, and the government must create the right environment."

Yeah, right.

Here's more -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j924qaMb0d8

Craige Brown

Perhaps Mr Brown should also turn his apparently narrow view of the mining world to include Chinese mining firms as well.

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