Monthly Archives: June 2010

Local landowners respond to Barter’s ‘self-serving misinformation’

Last week Australian born hotelier and former PNG government Minister, Peter Barter, published a two-part defence of the Chinese owned Ramu nickel mine in the newspapers. A group of PNG landowners have written this response:

Peter’s Profits At Risk!

If Peter Barter’s greedy, self-serving behavior wasn’t so transparent and pitiful it would border on hilarious.

Barter, an Australian born expat, is clearly listening to only those whose interests he serves and profits from – Highlands Pacific, MCC and the National Alliance under Michael Somare.

In a hilarious attempt to sound noble, balanced and caring the Aussie expat went to the daily newspapers with his take on the situation in Madang. Barter was taking misinformation from Highlands Pacific and MCC and trying to cobble it together to sound like an authoritative voice in the ongoing struggle of the people of the Rai Coast to stop the dumping of 100 million tonnes of waste in their sea.

How bad was it? Well PNG blog and websites were filled with Papua New Guineans, both living in PNG, and working/living overseas. OVER 1,200 responses came in seeing the Barter ‘pitch’ for what it was. Sorry Pete – you didn’t score so well. Actually his attempted backfired. Even more support has been gathered for the Rai Coast people and Peter has managed to energise them even more.

On top of that, word is the four plaintiffs in the court case had their lawyer write Barter saying they thought  he was in contempt of court for trying to influence their case. Sensing the seriousness of the situation and facing a criminal charge the Australian born Barter went into high gear trying to right his wrongs.

Firstly radio show Tok Bek host Roger Hau’ofa, obviously reading from Barter’s script came out in support of the Ramu nickel mine. He did not admit it but the info he was spouting was right out of Barter’s misinformation. Also Hau’ofa did not get much support for his stand. Only one caller even remotely supported Hau’ofa and one caller accussed Hau’ofa of taking his pro Ramu Nickel stand because the Barter hotel was a sponsor of the show.

Then true to the ex-pat Barter’s mode of doing things he got on the radio telling people how much he did for Madang.  Then he had himself put on the front page of the Post Courier “saving” some poor fellow in Saidor who was severely cut. This is typical Barter – trying to play the hero as he has tried to do in the past. What is well known is how much Barter charges the government for such “missions of mercy.”

Lastly, in the National newspaper he had his articles finish with his name saying he was a “now concerned citizen” (how about before now Peter?) and philanthropist. Poor Peter.

The fact is Mr. Barter was, as noted, earlier pushing the information put out by Highlands Pacific and MCC. Both employees and directors from these companies stay AT MUCH EXPENSE in his hotel. He now has a seven day Chinese menu to suit MCC (by the way the food isn’t too good). It is clear he makes a substantial amount of money from these two companies and THAT WAS HIS MOTIVE for writing the two part article about the Ramu Nickel Mine. Mr. Barter failed to mention his personal financial interest in the matter even though he has a CLEAR FINANCIAL MOTIVE in making statements to please his clients. There’s a name for people like that we believe.

To end, we are told Mr. Barter is getting people ready to hold a demonstration. That’s right you read it correctly. No doubt to try to counter the legitimate demonstration landowners held against the new Environmental Act. We have one word of caution to the Aussie ex-pat, as we note some of the people he is involved with (supplied by guess who?) are the same ones who MCC used to try to intimidate the lawyers and plaintiffs at the Madang Court House recently. Don’t make the same embarrassing mistakes Madam Luo and MCC made Peter – please have your “demonstrators” show up sober.

PS Aussie-born expat Peter Barter – we hope you got our point about complaining about outsiders!!!!!!

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Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights

On-line petition passes first target

An on-line petition organised by the campaign group ACT NOW!, in protest against the PNG government’s Environment Act amendments, has passed its first target of 500 signatures and is climbing steadily towards 1,000 supporters.

Please sign the petition to register your protest at the Environment Act changes which take away landowners traditional and legal rights and give immunity to foreign companies for the environmental damage they cause.

ACT NOW! has also established a discussion group on the social networking site facebook. The group has attracted over 1,200 members and is a great place to  follow all the latest developments concerning the campaign against the Environment Act changes and to watch the stumbling responses from the PNG government.

Nice work from ACT NOW!

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Police attempt to stop protest on government orders

Police in Madang have told landowners their planned peaceful protest on Wednesday 30th June cannot go ahead because of instructions issued by the Attorrny General and Justice Minister – read the police letter.

But landowners believe the action by the Attorney General, who has told police any protest will be a contempt of court, is completely flawed and unlawful.

The landowners, in their response to the police have said:

  1. The planned protest march is NOT in contempt of court and there is no power in the police to stop a march in these circumstances. The Constitution guarantees certain basic human rights to all persons within the jurisdiction of Papua New Guinea: these include S46 Freedom of Expression, S45 Freeedom of Conscience, Thought and Religion, S47. Freedom of Assembly and Association and S52 Right to Freedom of Movement. The Attorney General has no right in law or otherwise to take these away.
  2. The Police have no jurisdiction to stop the march for being in Contempt without a Court Order banning the march first being obtained. There can be no contempt of court by the protest march taking place as there has been no Court Order ordering that the protest march not take place. There simply CANNOT be a Contempt of Court as there will be no breach of a Court Order. It is ridiculous to state that there is a contempt of court in the march taking place.
  3. If the Attorney General thinks somehow there is a contempt of court by the protest march, he will have to prove it before the court in a contested court application.  This is a question only a Court can determine when all the relevant facts and circumstances are taken into account. There is no such application filed let alone set to be argued.
  4. The Attorney General has acted beyond his powers under the Attorney General Act.  He has no powers to instruct anyone.  He is merely the legal adviser to NEC.  He has no power to instruct or direct the Police and in so doing he has acted unlawfully and should be charged and arrested by the Police for interfering in with Police in the course of their duties.
  5. Should there be any further attempts to breach the constitutionally guaranteed human rights of the people of Madang by interfering with the protest march, we will immediately file an urgent Application under Section 57 of the Constitution to Enforce our Rights and the Application will be made against the Attorney General and anyone else who breaches our rights as set out above.

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Landowners not impressed by Pala’s warning on Environment Act comments

Post Courier

The Government’s top legal officer has warned people and media groups against publishing or making commentaries about the recent amendments to the Environment Act 2000.

This includes anyone who co-ordinates and conducts public meetings, demonstrations or public protests, Attorney General Ano Pala cautioned yesterday. Otherwise, they ran the risk of being cited for contempt of court, a notice issued by Mr Pala, a former longtime Clerk of Parliament, stated.

The minister’s warning is based on a Supreme Court reference filed by Nonggorr and William Lawyers for its clients Sana Melanbo, Eddie Tarsie and Farina Siga on June 3 seeking the court opinion as to whether the amended Act was unconstitutional.

Last night, the four Madang landowners represented by the Nonggorr law firm issued a statement, challenging Mr Pala’s statement.  They were, advised that there was nothing before the court that prevented the media or anybody discussing if the law was a good piece of legislation as a matter of public policy.

“There is nothing preventing the media or anyone from discussing, if the Act is constitutional as the Attorney General and Government are saying and will likely argue before the court, if that is a good piece of legislation”, they said. They said Mr Pala’s advice was extraordinary. “Why has he not given this advice to the NEC, and the Parliament, so that all the parliamentary debate on it this week should not have taken place.” they said in a statement issued from Madang.

They said the Attorney General had no power to direct police what to do and that the Constitution said nobody outside the police force could direct the police on laying and prosecuting charges.

The minister in his statement advised the general public that there should not be anymore discussions, comments or reference conducted in the media or anywhere else in public as this matter was now sub-judice.

This means, there will be no more talkback radio programs and interviews, no more advertisements, no more letters to the editors, no more public meetings, public demonstrations protest marches, the minister warned.

“Everyone’s freedom of expression is now subsumed into this court case. This means that you also have a right to be represented at the hearing of this Supreme Court reference and can either be represented by the same lawyer or others who can represent you on the same reference”, Mr Pala said.

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Government in shocking move to shut down environment law debate

Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Justice and Attorney General has made an audacious move to silence any debate about the government’s controversial amendments to the Environment Act.

The Minister, Ano Pala, has circulated to the media an astonishing edict in which he informs the public there will be:

  • no more discussion, comment or reference in the media to the Environment Act amendments
  • no talk back radio programs or interviews
  • no more advertisements
  • no more letters to the editor
  • no more protest meetings
  • no public demonstrations, and
  • no public marches.

His notice also directs the police to cancel and not authorize any further public meetings, protest demonstrations or marches against the Environment Act amendments.

This is an utterly outrageous attempt by a draconian government to stifle public debate and deny citizens their constitutional rights.

The Minister has NO right to tell the people what they can and cannot do.

He has no rights to try and control the media

He has no rights to tell the police what they can and cannot do.

The Minister’s claimed justification that as the laws are being challenged in the Supreme Court the whole matter is sub judice is complete and utter nonsense. There is nothing before the Supreme Court in the Reference that prevents the MEDIA or ANYONE else from discussing whether or not it is a good piece of legislation.

The Minister also seems to have forgotten that the government itself is organizing conferences and debates on another piece of legislations that is before the Supreme Court – the law on the Integrity of Political Parties. So why the double standard?

It also appears that the Minister, in attempting to usurp the powers of the police and stop people from expressing themselves – which is guaranteed by the Constitution, is himself engaging in unlawful conduct!

Download the Ministers edict

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Police arrest duo to prevent protest march

By ZACHERY PER

TWO leaders of a group attempting to stage a protest march over the controversial Maladina Bill and amendments to the Environment Act in Eastern Highlands’ Kainantu were arrested by police yesterday.

Eastern Highlands police commander Chief Supt Augustine Wampe said more would be arrested for trying to stage protests without giving the 14-day notice to the police.

“The law requires anyone wanting to lead protest marches to consult with the police and give the notice. If not, they will be conducting an illegal assembly and will be arrested and charged,” he said.

Wampe, however, did not disclose the identities of the two arrested, saying  police would be out in full force to nab those participating in illegal assemblies.

He said there were minor stone-throwing at a few trucks travelling on the highway through Kainantu in the early hours of yesterday morning but no serious damage was reported.

“Not all the people in the settlements, villages and even town fully understand the Maladina Bill and the amendments to the Environment Act. They will cause unnecessary law and order problems and we are out to nab them,” he said.

Reports from Kainantu confirmed that business operations in the township were scaled down for fear of lootings and attacks from the public.

There was widespread fear that locals, triggered by university students on study break carrying out awareness on the two controversial bills would spark violence and lootings.

Reports also confirmed that all Asian business houses kept their doors shut while only locals opened for business. Schools children stayed indoors for fear of attacks with Kainantu Primary School and some high schools suspending classes.

Kainantu district administrator Ako Onise described the scene in Kainantu as “like a very quiet Sunday afternoon”.

He confirmed a group of people, especially youths, gathered early yesterday morning in town but quick police response diffused mounting tensions.

Onise told The National a student leader from the University of Technology approached his office with a programme on the protest  but when he (Onise) asked if he had police approval, the response was negative.

He said non-governmental organisations (NGO) also planned to put up the March and petitioned Kainantu MP Sailon Beseo who was not present. Police intervened and dispersed the assembly.

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Fairweather did the right thing by quitting government

THE NATIONAL

The Opposition has congratulated Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather on his decision to quit the government over the amendments to the Environment Act 2000 recently passed by Parliament.

Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta said Fairweather’s decision demonstrated his wishes to set aside his political interests and protect PNG and its citizens.

Fairweather, a member of the People’s National Congress, withdrew his support for the government last Wednesday because he did not like the changes to the environment laws.

He described the amendments as a controversial law where proper procedures were not followed in the passage of the bill. He said the changes, which were bulldozed through Parliament, had taken away the rights of the people to seek justice over the use of their land in court.

According to Fairweather, the amendments meant that the environment director’s decision on environment permits and related issues was final and could not be challenged or reviewed in any court or tribunal, even if companies cause environmental damages through negligence.

Commending the MP’s stand, Sir Mekere called on all concerned leaders in government to reconsider their support for the present leadership.

“We urge other leaders in government, who have genuine concern for the welfare and interest of PNG, to withdraw their support and stand to be counted as true leaders.

“The passage of the Environment Amendment Bill is in the interest of Ramu nickel mine only. It is another example of public policy-making dictated by foreign interests.

“People of PNG will pay dearly for this.

“A band of National Alliance party members, together with the prime minister, have sold this country under the pretext of PNG’s economic gains,” Sir Mekere said.

“In PNG’s national interest, this government should not be allowed to continue in office.”

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