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Involve more PNGeans in resources: Amet

PNG Attorney General, Sir Arnold Amet told the PNG - Australia Business Forum in Madang yesterday that government agencies and resource companies must do more to include Papua New Guineans in the country's resources boom. JEMIMA GARRETT reported for Radio Australia….

THERE'S BEEN AN upsurge in landowner anger at various projects. Ramu Nickel facing a court action against their tailing disposal, we've seen complaints about the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone and we've seen the landowners for the PNG LNG project getting increasingly upset.

What Sir Arnold was basically saying was that if the government agencies don't deal with this sort of problem, then there's going to be much bigger problems down the track in terms of threats of shutdowns to major projects and so on.

He's also saying the government needs to deal much better with bringing land into projects, in terms of an equity position, so they actually get dividends from the business and to deal much better obviously with social and economic impacts.

He also had something to say to the company bosses, of whom there are many here. He was saying that they have go recognise that this is an industry that is foreign-dominated and they need to do more to bring Papua New Guineans in at the top technical level of managers and senior managers.

Foreign Minister Don Polye spoke about the generally positive state of relations between Australia and PNG and he said both countries are pushing ahead with plans for a more mature economic relationship and that would see the replacement of the current development cooperation treaty with an economic relations agreement.

He told the audience that PNG is conducting an urgent review of its immigration laws to facilitate investment that should be finished by the end of the year and it will look at a number of issues that have been big sticking points for the PNG Business Council and the Australia-PNG Businesss Council.

He also said they'd be looking at dual citizenship. He talked also about a couple of other major reviews in his portfolio area. PNG is drawing up a new trade policy looking very much at trade liberalisation and including a dimension of green growth.

Mr Polye finished by talking about the divide between rich and poor in PNG, which he says is great, and he made a pitch to the bosses of the very many companies here that they should play a role in trying to ameliorate that.

The PNG-Australia Business Council was, to quote them, "extremely disappointed" that Parliamentary Secretary Richard Marles wasn't there, which is about as strong as it comes. Generally Richard Marles has been very attentive to PNG Guinea. He's travelled to quite a number of remote areas, including the Southern Highlands.

But in his place Australian High Commissioner Ian Kemish had some interesting facts about this economic boom in PNG. He said PNG is now the sixth fastest growing economy in the world, which is really putting it up there almost in China category, and he commented on Australia's role in supporting PNG to start to bring services to the people, because if this boom is to create a long term better future for PNG, obviously it has to do that.

Ian Kemish said there's no doubt that there is a good story to tell here. I think from the business side, Australia is looking at how they can improve the arrangement they have with PNG and make sure that the benefits do get down to the people, because really it's in everyone's interest.

If the people of PNG aren't satisfied with development, there will be trouble and that will mean trouble for business as well.

Source: Radio Australia


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