News Monday 23rd August, 2010
Lawyer, Govt clash on mine
MINING Minister John Pundari and landowners’ lawyer Tiffany Nonggorr have clashed over the proposed deep sea tailings placement issue with the Ramu nickel mine in Madang.
The case took a new twist over the weekend when lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Tiffany Nongorr was alleged by a ministerial staffer to have threatened to prolong the court case against the mine for more than two years.
In a statement from Mining Minister John Pundari’s office, it was alleged that Mrs Nongorr called the second secretary to the Minister, Simeon Wai, on his mobile last Friday and said that she had scientific data to help her prolong the court imposed moratorium on construction of the DSTP.
Her remarks were in relation to an article in the Post-Courier on August 20 titled: “Pundari backs Ramu after meeting locals.” The Pundari office statement claimed she had said she had spies at the Mineral Resources Authority who she collaboratedwith to get government information concerning the DSTP and Ramu nickel project.
But Mrs Nongorr yesterday denied any threat to prolong the case and said she told Mr Wai that when the Minister was appointed a couple of weeks ago, he immediately announced he would “fix” the Ramu nickel matter.“The next day I rang his second secretary and said that the plaintiffs wanted to brief him on their issues to assist him fix the matter,” Mrs Nongorr said.
“The second secretary said he would pass the message onto the Minister. They never contacted me again.” Mrs Nongorr said that on Friday the Minister was reported in the paper as saying no-one had come to the Government and showed the consequences of DSTP and the alternatives.
“I rang the second secretary and told him that I was very annoyed that the Minister had issued such a statement, as my clients had offered to brief him and he had ignored them. I said to him that the best way forward was for a negotiated solution in the best interests of the people, the Government and the miner. I said to him that if there was no early settlement then the case could go on for at least a year or more because whoever won the trial, there would likely be an appeal. And if that was the case, no one would benefit.”
Mr Pundari when told by Mr Wai about Mrs Nongorr’s outburst challenged the lawyer to disclose the identities of her “collaborators’’ at MRA or other government agencies.
“As far as I’m concerned, all public servants that are involved in the Ramu project are committed and dedicated to achieving the best outcome for all parties. If there are rogue elements within the Government team, they are doing so for their own interest and not serving the state’s and people’s interest,” he said.
Mrs Nongorr said she has had discussions and meetings with the lawyers for MRA and they believed a negotiated outcome was better for everyone.
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