Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fijian Landowners Must Own the Natural Underground Resources and Fisheries - Not the State

Ex-PNG PM Says Law Needs to Change - Australia Network News

Sai's Comments:
  • The news item below can equally be about Fijian landowners wanting to have their right and entitlement recognised in Law on their ownership of the natural resources, minerals etc.. under their land and in their fisheries and NOT the State.
  • This was indeed what was guaranteed to be returned to them under the Deed of Cession and precisely what the Qarase government acted on in returning fisheries to traditional owners.
  • The rest we know is history as the current and illegal military regime, in collusion with resort owners, banded together to oppose and deprive Fijians their rightful entitlement.
  • Yet Fijians will Never Rest until this wrong is put Right even if takes generations to achieve. It is precisely what traditional landowners around the globe, including in PNG and NZ Maori are agitating for these days.
  • For any chance of long term peace and harmony in Fiji, this will need to be dealt with as a matter of urgency and no amount of hoodwinking and doublespeak by the current illegal regime will change this.
Australia Network News - 26 April 2011

A former prime minister of Papua New Guinea says the country's traditional land owners should own the rights to the natural underground resources.

Sir Julius Chan says the Bougainville crisis is an object lesson in what happens when people feel they are not getting the benefits they are entitled to.

The Bougainville crisis - a long civil conflict - began as a dispute over who should receive money generated by a huge copper and gold mine on the island.

Change needed
Mr Chan, who is now governor of New Ireland, says his experiences as prime minister during that conflict have convinced him a change is needed in the law which grants the state the rights to PNG's rich mineral deposits.

Sir Julius tells Radio Australia's Bruce Hill that landowners are quite capable of agreeing to mining leases, which would ensure the benefits go directly to local people rather than the government.

"A country, an independent state, like Papua New Guinea cannot buy what it already owns. The resources under the ground, by virtue of the Act of 1992, make the state the sole owner of anything below, above or in the water and out at sea," he said.

Sir Julius says that looking at the history of Papua New Guinea for the last 36 years, the legislation "has not proven any development in the lives of the people in PNG".

"For some unknown reason - and I must include myself here because of the infancy of government independence and the haste in which  we've acquired that - we legislated to restrict ourselves from ownership of these resources," said Sir Julius.

"Does it make any sense for business to transfer title in property to someone freely like foreign investors for a paltry payment of $PGK10,000 [$US4,104] and then when things are discovered, buy back from them for up to $PGK300 million [$US123 million] or more?

"Does it make any sense at all for a country to earn billions in income and not be able to improve the lives of the people?"

Sir Julius says if these questions are asked, it is clear why the ownership of resources should be transferred back to the traditional landowners.

"I believe that the wealth of any country should be in the hands of the people, so that when the people are rich then the nation is rich," he said.

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