An address to Parliament by SIR JULIUS CHAN
Wednesday June 23, 2010
I rise today for a simple purpose. I want to bring a cautionary tale to this debate on Environment. I want to bring a cautionary tale to the Parliament, the country of
and our peoples on rights to live in
clean natural environment and in peace. Papua New
We often seek to model ourselves after the West. We often seek to model ourselves after countries such as
or America or that
we think have become “modern” – that we think have become “developed”. Australia
Alright. That is not a bad goal. But sometimes the so-called “advanced” countries can provide us not only with lessons about how we should develop – sometimes they can provide us with lessons about how we SHOULD NOT DEVELOP.
I have visited
America more than most politicians in . I have come to know Papua New Guinea over
the years. And I have come to respect America . This is the country that has been in the
forefront of promoting democracy around the world. This is the country that has elected a black
man as President of the country – the first country in the West to do so. America has never had a black
president. Germany has never had a black
president. England has never had a black
president. Australia has one. Now. America
. But sometimes even those you respect the most
make mistakes. Or maybe not
mistakes. Maybe they just provide us
with lessons. And that is what America is
doing today. America is providing us with a lesson
and we are foolish if we do not heed it. America
You might have heard that British Petroleum has had a bit of a problem in
recently. Specifically, BP has a deep-sea oil well in
the Gulf of Mexico, just to the south of America Texas
that had what they call a “blowout”. The
well was over two miles under the sea.
They had a drilling platform floating in the Gulf of Mexico, and they
had a pipe going two miles down to the floor of the sea, and going another two
miles underneath the floor of the sea.
But the connection at the link between the floor of the sea and the
levels underneath the floor of the sea – well, it broke. And it broke big time. They now estimate that somewhere between five
and fifty thousand barrels of oil are spewing out of the broken link every day. America
Fifty thousand barrels! That is enough oil to cover downtown
Port Moresby from the Yacht Club to by a foot of oil. Every day! Deloitte Tower
And this is in the most technologically-advanced country in the world.
And it is not the first time. This event is being compared to the 1989 spill in the Prince William Sound in
That was a huge environmental disaster in which a ship broke up and
spilled over ten million Alaska
gallons of oil into the sea, and that oil coated hundreds of miles of
So what do we learn from these disasters? I will give you a hint. In
, the most technologically
advanced country in the world and the most democratic country in the world the
Congress – the Parliament – has begun investigations into the BP disaster. And that is what it is. The BP disaster! America
Of course, BP says it is not their fault. It is not their fault because they only ran the oil well. But they had another company responsible for the systems that were supposed to prevent leaks. And they say that company failed. And what does that company say? Well, they say that the company that did the construction of the pad at the bottom of the sea is to blame.
So when things go badly wrong it appears no one is to blame. This should make us very cautious in
. If no one is to blame when things go wrong in
the most powerful country in the world, then what will happen when things go
wrong here? Do you think ExxonMobil will
think that a demand from the Parliament of PNG is as important as a demand from
the Congress of the Papua New Guinea ? United
States of America
One thing is clear – we need to be very certain that the companies that are coming into
are going to be good partners. We need
companies that are not only going to be our friends when the times are good,
when they are making billions of dollars from LNG that is being exported to Papua New Guinea Australia and , but who will be dependable
partners when things go wrong? China
Given what is happening in
today, I am not so certain. I think our
government needs to be very careful we have a failsafe system in place to
ensure that ExxonMobil will take care of problems when they arise. I am afraid that sweetheart deals might have
been made that mean that the politicians in control right now benefit, but in
the long run if things go wrong we will have no way of making certain that the
company takes responsibility for its errors… America
There is another aspect in which the American experience has lessons for us. In
, the granting of licenses
for offshore drilling, for mineral licenses in general, is the responsibility
of the Minerals Management Service. This
is a government agency that grants licenses for mineral exploration, and it
also monitors the operation of mining activities. But the US Congress has been looking into the
MMS in the past month, after the Gulf Oil Spill and they have found that the
same division that is responsible for granting licenses to oil companies is
also responsible for monitoring their activities. America
And guess what. They found that the Minerals Management Service was too close to the oil companies. They found that MMS did not require that the oil companies do all the work they should have done for environmental studies and impacts. They found that the MMS even allowed the oil companies to leapfrog the regulations – they let the oil companies start drilling years before they should have without proper environmental reports being internationally tested by independent group of scientists.
My friends, this is
. It is supposed to operate fairly. It is supposed to operate transparently. This reminds me of Mineral Resources
Authority (MRA) here. Have you Minister
filtered the Environmental Studies through competent, independent
environmentalists? Can you give
unequivocal guarantee on damages to my people on Simberi and whole of West
Coast in which two thirds of the water is being dugged miles underwater? America
If this is the kind of damages happening in
then can you imagine what is happening here?
Do you have any idea how big and influential the LNG project has become? America
And we cannot get information. We do not even have the power to ask questions about the LNG Project. Parliament is really helpless because it is so controlled by the sitting government. Never in the history of
has a government controlled and gagged so many members of Parliament. Papua New Guinea
Think about it. The Prime Minister has managed to collect 89 of 109 members of Parliament into its coalition. This means that he is unassailable. He cannot be challenged. But how was he able to do this? Only by promising the leaders of ten or fifteen party’s big ministries. Ministries where those big men stand to make big money. Let us be honest. The many members of Parliament who are in government have been promised goodies – and they have been bought with the promise of having ministries, five more are now available to dish out that they can run as they like, so long as they support the Prime Minister and refrain from a no confidence vote.
So the Prime Minister has put people in charge of mining, of forestry, labor, foreign affairs, over whom he has no control. All he wants is to be immune from a vote of no confidence.
And maybe he thinks he is immune.But the country is not.
We need to take a step back. We need to be certain that ExxonMobil understands that the reason for the LNG Project is to improve the lives of the people of PNG. I am not certain that they do understand this. I fear that they have engaged in sweetheart deals with various agencies and influential people of the country in order to smooth the way for the implementation of the project. I can only ask that they consider carefully how their actions will affect the people of the country.
But ultimately it is not the responsibility of BP or of ExxonMobil or of any other multinational corporation to ensure that exploration and production are done in a responsible and efficient manner.
shown that when the political and bureaucratic structures do not demand
compliance, then compliance will not occur. America
We need to demand compliance. We need to demand transparency. We need to demand accountability.
And to achieve this we need open and honest discussion. There is no discussion now because the Leader of Government simply closes the Parliament at his discretion. There is no discussion because the responsible ministries simply do not provide us with information. They are insulted that we even want to know where the money has gone and who has benefitted.
I rose today to provide you with some information about what is happening in the most-powerful country in the world. It is important that we know this as we are in the process of making some of the same mistakes
America made with respect to the Exxon Valdez
oil spill in
and the BP spill last month, which continues as I speak. The LNG project must be closely examined. Nautilus must not be allowed to drill,
destroy and disappear. Allied Gold has
not compensated Simberi landowners for the ongoing environmental damages to
water and the reefs. Government must
provide us with full disclosure concerning investment and expenditure and
environmental studies and ultimate responsibility for potential environmental
disasters. For example, does operating
companies hold assets enough to compensate these damages. Through smart and legal savvy most of these
giant companies split incorporation to escape liabilities. Can the government guarantee a security fund
for such contingency? Alaska
But I suspect Government will not provide us with that information. Because I suspect the LNG project has already been the source of great influence than any other project in the history of
. But can we talk about this honestly and
openly??? Papua New Guinea
ExxonMobil, Nautilus, Lihir Gold, all Forests and Fishing investors, you are working in
. You are exploiting the resources we have here
and you expect to make a major profit by working here. Papua New Guinea
But we ask that you take the idea of Corporate Responsibility seriously. We ask that you refuse to pay those who ask to be paid. We ask that you refuse to enter into an agreement that will benefit the government, and the politicians who constitute government, at the expense of the people of this country.
And I want to say one more thing to these big boys especially ExxonMobil. The key partner in your venture may appear to be national government. But it is not. The key partner is the people of this country. If a multi-billion dollar project is implemented in this country, and it does not result in improvement of the lives of the people on the ground, then it will not result in smooth sailing for you over the course of the next twenty or thirty years.
Ireland, are tired of outside companies coming into the Province
and making billions of kina only to see our rate of maternal mortality, infant
mortality, and other key indicators rising.
This is not acceptable. Worse,
the National Government has continuously breached the MOA signed.
ExxonMobil, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, European Union, Australian Agency for International Development.There comes a time when you are responsible as much as Papua New Guinea. There comes a time when you have to tell the Government of Papua New Guinea that you will not continue to pump in billions – billions! – of Australian or US dollars to a country where the maternal mortality rate has not dropped for twenty years.
Are you blind? You call yourselves developed? And yet you provide funds year after year to no effect!
And shame on
if we do not learn from the experience of the most advanced country in the
world. Papua New Guinea
So today, I only want to say one thing. Development is not a matter of the rate of growth of the economy. Development is not a matter of fiscal flows. Development is only real if the lives of the people in the villages of this country improve. In the past twenty years, the lives of the grassroots people have not improved, despite the billions of kina of wealth generated from their land.
This cannot continue. And I ask all foreign investors to consider this. It is a sad truth that the government of this country is not – is not looking out for the people of this country. I ask all our international partners to recognise this. Please! Recognise this. And help those of us who are tired of “business as usual” to force government to change….to force government to do what it should do. Improve the lives of our people….Protect the young and those yet unborn.