A recent United Nations report [see below] on the resource curse in PNG highlights some of the failures of an economy based on large scale resource extraction. But the report ultimately falls short in exposing the real depth of the problems. Instead, it attempts to further promote this destructive, violent and failed model of development by recommending a new Mining Ombudsman in PNG.
The report, authored by New Zealand academic, Glenn Banks, has highlighted the failure of the PNG economy, which is based on large-scale mining, to improve the lives of ordinary people in PNG.
But in its analysis the report fails to comprehend the scale of the environmental and social destruction caused by large-scale resource projects and, in making its recommendations, it fails to understand the scale of the corruption and inequality in PNG.
Mining and other large-scale resource extraction destroy the environment that people rely on for their subsistence and cash incomes, divide communities which then fracture and lose all social cohesion, undermine traditional structures and culture and create a sense of dependency rather than self-sufficiency.
In PNG numerous Commission’s of Inquiry, an Ombudsman Commission and a special Task Force on corruption have all proved ineffective in PNG in delivering any justice or accountability and with this history, the suggestion for a new Mining Ombudsman should be viewed as either naive and foolish or deliberately deceptive.
PNG ‘needs’ a mining ombudsman
Radio New Zealand
An academic says a mining ombudsman in Papua New Guinea could do a lot to solve conflict around projects.
The PNG economy is soaring on the back of huge returns from the LNG project but the country still has half its population at or below the poverty line.
Associate professor Glenn Banks at New Zealand’s Massey University wrote a United Nations Development Programme report on the challenges this poses for PNG.
He says they have advocated better governance and the delivery of public services, while the establishment of a mining ombudsman would help resolve conflicts between communities and mining companies.
“Having an ombudsman at a very senior level who has the ability to draw on international experience, to draw on legal expertise, human rights expertise, and provide a conduit for people to actually bring grievances against the operators, against the state, against other elements in their community, or elsewhere, could make a huge difference.”