PNG's new anti-mining vice

A KEY advocate of handing over control of Papua New Guinea’s resources to landowner groups, Boka Kondra, has been appointed as the “vice” minister for mining. The O’Neill government appointed 10 other vice ministers to add to its 33 ministers.
PNG's new anti-mining vice PNG's new anti-mining vice PNG's new anti-mining vice PNG's new anti-mining vice PNG's new anti-mining vice

Kondra, who has the Ok Tedi mine in his electorate, was championing his Natural Resources Ownership Bill last year.

This bill has a simplistic approach to amend existing mining and petroleum legislation by substituting the word "state" with either "customary landowners" or "landlords".

Such a shift in policy could open the floodgates to people who wish to claim landownership, and extensive social mapping is already required under the existing regime.

There could be further implementation issues, as the existing legislation was designed for government ownership of resources.

Recently-appointed Mining Minister Byron Chan has already caused plenty of controversy over his similar plan to relinquish government ownership of any resources 6 feet below land or sea to landowner groups.

Chan plans to introduce his amendments before the election due in mid-2012, and with Kondra as his deputy it appears that a word substitution game could be played on existing resources legislation.

The O'Neill government's recent move to extend its packed cabinet with 11 vice-ministers could also indicate an increasingly fragile coalition.

"We have less than 12 months to deliver our program but we will do our best," Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said.

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