The Australian Parliament has passed a law to deal with endemic tuberculosis in PNG’s Western Province. Australia will now reopen TB clinics in the Torres Strait and South Fly to try and contain the health crisis.
The Australian move once again highlights the appalling job done by the PNG Sustainable Development Fund in improving the health and development indicators in Western Province.
The Fund, which is registered in Singapore, has US$1.4 billion invested around the world and pays its Board members hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. But the people of Western Province are yet to see the benefits.
While BHP, PNGSDP and its former Chairman, Ross Garnaut, claims the Fund is doing an excellent job, people are dying unnecessarily in Western province and now the Australian government is having to step in to deal with the consequences of the tragic mismanagement.
Ross Garnaut, BHP and the PNGSDF should be made to answer for this health crisis. Why have they not invested in health clinics and hospitals? Why do people not have water tanks now their river has been destroyed by the Ok Tedi mine?
The people of the South Fly have a ruined, poisonous river thanks to BHP and its mine and they have no health services and drug resistant TB because PNGSDP has failed to use the dividends from the mine to sustainably develop the province (while they pay themselves board fees of $1.5 million a year and stock piling the $1.4 billion).
Worse still the PNGSDP is spending $400 million on a deep sea port project to benefit BHP and a proposed new Highlands Pacific mine 25km from OK Tedi (Ross Garnaut is of course now a Director of Highlands Pacific).
The cost of dredging work alone for the new port is reported to be $100 million – money that is being spent while Australia has to step in to treat local people suffering with TB!