A COMMISSION of inquiry into the OK Tedi issue, the environment damage and the establishment of the PNG Sustainable Development Program will be set up.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced this in Parliament yesterday.
“Papua New Guineans deserve to know the truth, not just colouring of the truth so that it suits somebody’s interest, they deserve to know the truth and that’s why I have decided to establish a commission of inquiry,” he said.
Mr O’Neill said he would get an independent person, possibly an Australian judge, to carry out the investigation.
He also said the State had also engaged the biggest environmental law firm in Australia, Slater and Gordon, to review the case that was done by Rex Dagi so that the PNG Government itself takes out the court case against BHP.
“We have to sue this company for the substantial environmental damage they have caused to our people,” he said.
Mr O’Neill was answering questions from South Fly MP Sekie Agisa who, during Question Time, asked the PM what the government and OK Tedi were doing to mitigate the environment damage to Western Province.
Mr O’Neill said the issue about the environmental damage to Western Province has been well publicised, well debated and well documented.
“It is certainly a sad story which successive governments had no due care for the welfare of their own people and protected the interest of the big mining giants and was given protection in fact by legislations passed by this parliament,” he said.
He said the saga is continuing with the PNG Sustainable Development Program that was established as part of that compensation program by the then Morauta Government while giving indemnity and legislative protection to BHP.
“BHP walked away unchallenged for their responsibilities that they had to the people of Western Province on the massive environmental damage they have conducted while they were managing OK Tedi, that is a proven fact.
“I know that our people have now taken over the mine and I know there are certain improvements in the way they manage their waste in OK Tedi, but I feel that this is a question that still lingers in the mindset of our people,” he said.
He said PNGSDP is now subject to a court case in Singapore between the State and the directors of PNGSDP.