Sir Julius advocates resource ownership

In a recent event held at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan addressed the students, focusing on resource ownership and autonomy.

Despite it being a national holiday, Sir J dedicated four hours on Friday, June 16th, to reinforce his thoughts on these matters and shed light on several private member's bills that will soon be presented to parliament.

Accompanying Sir Julius Chan were Deputy Chairman of the New Ireland Autonomy Committee, Byron Chan; former Ambassador and former People's Progress Party President, Sumasy Singin, consultant legislative counsel, Kalu Yomilewa; and legal advisor, Dr. John Kwimb.

Sir Julius expressed his concerns about the failure of most resource projects in the country to improve the lives of ordinary Papua New Guineans. He attributed this failure to the Mining Act of 1992, which states that the state owns all minerals found in any water or land in Papua New Guinea. Similar declarations are made in the Oil and Gas Act of 1998 regarding oil and gas reserves throughout the country.

To address these issues, Governor Chan proposed the Mining (Amendment) Bill 2023, which aims to transfer the ownership of minerals, oil, and gas to the landowners who own the land.

To support his stance, he quoted Percy Chatterton, a member of the early House of Assembly, stating that the principle of state ownership is non-existent and violates both traditional PNG Law and British common law.

Sir Julius also criticized the state for giving away the people's resources to foreign companies and subsequently repurchasing them at exorbitant prices. Professor Michael Crommelin, an authority on Australian resource laws, shared this viewpoint as well.

Sir Julius highlighted the unfairness of foreign companies obtaining full control of the country's wealth for minimal fees and royalties.

He also emphasized that changes in resource laws should go hand in hand with the introduction of autonomy laws, empowering provinces to have greater control over their resources. Provinces such as New Ireland, East New Britain, and Enga have been actively pursuing autonomy to enhance unity within Papua New Guinea.

During the event, the esteemed team highlighted several proposed bills including;

  • The Mining (Amendment) Bill 2023
  • The Organic Law on Papua New Guinea's Ownership of Hydrocarbons and Minerals and Consolidation
  • Commercialization of Papua New Guinea's Business Law 2016 (Repeal) Law
  • The Constitution (Amendment) Law for Hydrocarbons and Minerals 2023
  • The Land (Amendment) Bill 2023
  • The New Ireland Autonomy Bill 2023
  • The Organic Law on Autonomous Governments; and
  • The Provincial Health Authority (Amendment Bill 2023).

Additionally, Minister for Higher Education, Science & Technology, Don Polye will present the New Ireland University Bill 2023.

After the briefing, the guests were treated to a delightful New Ireland-style Mumu.