The Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare expressed disappointment that the amendment to the Environment Act has been confused and misinterpreted.
Sir Michael said, “No landowner rights have been curtailed by the introduction of this recent amendment to the Environment Act of 2000.
“Project developers must still comply with PNG’s strict environment regulations before permits can be issued by the Department of Environment.
“This rigorous process of compliance safeguards in the first instance the interest of landowners, their land and the environment.
“Having said this, it would be irresponsible of government not to also protect the interest of project developers that have complied with our environment regulations and therefore been issued permits.
“There is a section in the Environment Act of 2000 that allows companies that have already been issued permits to proceed with their developments even though some Acts were repealed as a result of the amendment of 2000.
“The Bill recently introduced by Parliament merely gives clarity and erases doubts on the application and the saving and transition provisions in the Environment Act of 2000.
“The amendment does not mean we have lowered our standards of environmental protection.
“I urge the media and the public to find out the facts and importantly to read and understand legislation in general before issuing misleading statements that cause unnecessary anxiety,” said Sir Michael.
The Prime Minister is NOT telling the Truth!
1 The Prime Minister is LYING when he says that no landowner rights have been removed.
2 The permitting process is still there BUT the changes have been put in there to protect the companies and the government if they make mistakes - either if the government is negligent in permitting something that causes great harm, they can escape liability - and also the companies - if they initially said they wouldn"t cause harm and then do cause harm - they can get out of liability to the landowners.
3 The Act gives sole and absolute power to the Director of the Environment to approve past, present or future environmental harm - no matter how great or small - and get the developers out of liability.
4 That power and his decision is NOT reviewable or challengeable in a Court of Law and the landowners cannot sue for compensation for the past harm or to to prevent any future harm.
5 The landowners have been stripped of their common law and customary rights to go to Court to seek protection from or compensation from such harm AND THAT IS THE PLAIN FACT.
6 A constitutional reference has been filed by the Rai Coast landowners to challenge the new Act for breaches of human rights and for breaching the national goals and directive principles.
7 It is clear either the Prime Minister has received bad advice and should sack whoever is advising him or is deliberately lying to the people on this issue and we suggest he reads the Act for himself.