Culture clash facing PNG LNG: Bishop

THE social and cultural challenges are the hardest for the PNG LNG project, according to feedback Australian shadow foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop received during a recent tour to Papua New Guinea.
Culture clash facing PNG LNG: Bishop Culture clash facing PNG LNG: Bishop Culture clash facing PNG LNG: Bishop Culture clash facing PNG LNG: Bishop Culture clash facing PNG LNG: Bishop

In a speech to the Lowy Institute of Public Affairs last week, Bishop recalled a discussion with an ExxonMobil representative over the project difficulties.

She asked the Exxon rep to score the challenges for developing PNG LNG out of 10 compared to similar projects in other developing countries, with 10 being "extremely difficult".

"Interestingly he gave this project a very positive score of two from the location and logistical perspective, but a score of nine for the social and cultural challenges," she said.

"In other words, the mammoth task of constructing conditioning plants, production facilities, airstrips, roads, accommodation camps for thousands of workers, as well as a 750 kilometre pipeline across the mountains and a 400 kilometre seabed pipeline to Port Moresby, was relatively manageable compared with the task of managing the demands, fears, grievances and expectations of the landowners and local villagers.

"It must also be noted that it is a land where geography and limited state capacity have combined to ensure that government services and infrastructure are noticeable mainly for their absence."

Bishop also stated the Coalition's priorities for greater Australian involvement with the PNG government to promote stability and foster stronger levels of prosperity.

"As Papua New Guinea prepares to enter this unique period in its history, the Coalition believes that Australia must stand firmly alongside the PNG government and its people in their efforts to fulfil the country's immense potential and lay claim to its rightful status as a natural leader in the Pacific Ocean region," she said.

"I believe that we should look to PNG to place a greater investment in its own development and uphold standards of good governance and accountability."

The Coalition aims to especially target foreign aid to PNG to assist the crucial areas of health and education.

While the next Australian federal election must be held by the end of November in 2013, the government's proposed carbon tax has resulted in the Coalition regaining majority support under a two-party preferred basis in a series of polls over recent months.

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