Thursday, June 10, 2010

Papua New Guinea's new Environment Act - 2000

First Reading

Bill presented by Mr Benny Allen and read a first time.

Second Reading

Leave granted to move the second reading forthwith.
Mr BENNY ALLAN (Unggai-Bena – Minister for Environment and Conservation) – I move – That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to explain the purpose of the amendment act to the Environment Act 2002.

Mr Speaker, the matter prescribed in the Environment (Amendment) Bill 2010 will supplement and give full effect and enable the holders of environment permits to comply with the standards and the requirements set by their permits. The proposed amendment will also mitigate the risks associated with third party litigation that resource projects are now exposed to.

A recent Court decision against the State has exposed resource projects to the risk of that environment permit granted by the State in satisfaction of legal and scientific requirements, may not be valid and enforceable. A third party financed by a special interest groups although not a stakeholder in such projects can challenge the validity of an environment permit and frustrate work and activities that are carried out in accordance with such permits for approvals.

The idea that this is capable of happening even though any such projects that have operated strictly within the terms of those permits gives rise to a concern of national priority. All major mining and petroleum projects including the PNG LNG Projects are particularly at risk, whether they be already operating in construction or proposed. This presents a significant threat to the Papua New Guinea economy and the investor confidence. Therefore, it is a matter of utmost national significance.

Amendments that would need to be made to the Environment Act 2000 through the proposed (Environment Act) Bill 2010, are intended to assist the Department of Environment and Conservation and the Courts in better interpreting and applying our environmental laws in the national interest of Papua New Guinea. Therefore, it is imperative that the proposed amendment be brought into effect immediately as possible.
Mr Speaker, I commend the Bill. Motion – That the question be now put – agreed to.
Motion (by Mr Benny Allen) agreed to – That the Bill be now read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted to move the third reading forthwith. Motion (by Mr Benny Allen) proposed –
That the Bill be now read a third time.

Mr LUTHER WENGE,MP- (Morobe) – Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Minister in the Bill he proposes for support this morning.
Mr Speaker, it is the citizens right when their lives and environment affected by the damages caused by big operations to raise the matter in court and challenge them. This is a constitutional right.

This country is in a desperate need for money to provide services and the necessary infrastructure to the people of this nation. This country must move forward and develop so that it can be competitive with the global economy.

This country should not be left trailing at the back by individuals with their rights guaranteed by the constitution to get court orders to prevent developments going ahead. In this country we have big projects coming up ahead of us like the big LNG Gas project and the subject matter which the Supreme Court has served an order against the Government regarding the Nickel Mine.

Mr Speaker, with the developments of our natural resources and the proceeds of these operations boosts this nation’s economy and this country is on the path forward. Mr Speaker, we were sadden by the Supreme Court decision to prevent what is a big contributor to our nations economy in the Rai-Coast Electorate. As we all know the Nickel Mine is the biggest project which is going to bring billions of kina.

Of course, the project is going to have an enormous impact on the livelihood of the people and the environment but as I say and with respect, Mr Speaker, this amendment will make sure that that restrain is vacated, so that we can allow the mining to proceed.
I think we must put the interest of this country first. I urge the people and leaders alike to put our personal and political interests aside.

I think the country’s interest warrants the introduction of this Bill before this Parliament.
Mr Speaker, I fully support the Bill proposed by the Minister and I would also like to add that the human life is more important too. This must be weighed against the money and the glory.
Mr Speaker, as stipulated in the Environmental Act, any company given the right to conduct operations of exploitations of non-renewable and renewable resources are required to submit reports to satisfy the Government that what they intend to do does not cause any harm to the livelihood of our people. As I speak I am very mindful of the Rai Coast people where a lot of them are going to be affected.

Mr Speaker, all the feasibility studies and reports must be done in a way to advise our Government in such our way that these operations do not harm the lives of our people.
Mr Speaker, it is my belief that everything in this world work together and they depend on each other for survival. Like the plants depend on the insects, insects depend on the humans, humans depend on fish, the fish depend on the humans, and humans depend on the birds.

The honourable Members are laughing here and there but you must know that when you try to eliminate one kingdom such as bird kingdom or insect kingdom, the human being kingdom will cease to exist on planet earth. It is very important that we must be conscious of that.
I am sure those people who took the matter to the courts and won were mindful of that. But again as I said, national interest must be paramount and in this case I think national interest requires that we must support this Bill and have it passed.

But I am sure that the Government, in its wisdom will make something available for those who will be affected and in this case, the Rai Coast people in Madang and in the Southern Highlands including the Hela people.

The people whose land contains the gas, when it effective and in the process of producing the gas environmental damages will occur and I am sure the Government will make available sufficient cash or kind to help these people affected.

Of course, when this is done in the mining areas I am sure the Government will again take the necessary steps to compensate those people who own the renewable and non-renewable resources. This is because this is not a foolish Government. The Government has lot of men and woman who are adequately capable to make wise decisions.

I hope the Government, in the coming days will make sure that the interest of the landowners will be catered for. And I think the Government has done satisfactorily, particularly in the case of the LNG gas.

And I commend the Governor for Southern Highlands, Honourable Anderson Agiru. He has done pretty well to negotiate for his people. And I am sure other people in other places where natural resources are going to be harvested will do the same.

For instance, in Morobe, I am sure in the Wafi Mining, where there is progressing in the exploration will eventually proceed to mining thus the Government. In its wisdom will make sure that the interest of our people is taken care of. Similarly, this should be done for renewable resources as well.

The Government is in control of making sure that the national interest is protected at the highest levels. This Government is also making sure that the interest of the people concerned are also taken care of.

So, Mr Speaker, a I said I rose to make that point clear and ensure that nobody is ignored in terms of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of this country.
I want to ask the village people to realize that we, this Government is doing everything possible to make sure that nation and people’s interest are taken care of. Mr Speaker, I’d like to ask the honourable Members to fully support the passage of this Bill. Thank you.


Mr JOHN LUKE, MP- (Milne Bay) – Thank you, Mr Speaker. This Bill is not about the environment. It is about whether or not Papua New Guinea can control its own affairs.
People from outside come here and tell you, ‘do what I say, not what I do’. These people become rich because their fathers and forefathers exploited their resources. I know because I was born in that society. My father worked hard, my grandfather worked even harder to exploit the resources that the country hard.

Now, do we want people from outside coming in to tell you, ‘don’t exploit the resources because of some dangers that you have?’ My advice to this Chamber is that the answer should be no. Papua New Guinea is a sovereign country and we should be able to make our own decisions. Now, regarding the problems that we have in Madang, I feel that I have the right to speak on this matter because in Milne Bay we have a precedent.

As you know in the past we have a mine called ‘Misima Mine’ and the tailings were done through deep sea tailings and that was put into the sea like they planned to do in Madang.

I studied a lot of the problems related to that system of tailings disposal by reading a lot of environmental reports. In none of those reports do I see that the effect of that method is bad for us. I know, maybe, down at the bottom of the sea a few worms will suffer but compare that with the damage that they will do on the land, if they have to dispose the tailings there. There is no comparison.

On the Misima Mine closure, there is nothing to do with the sea. All the beaches, the fish are okay. It is the mud that they deposit onto the surface of the sea. The water is about 150m deep; it is too deep for fishing or people to dive into.

There are some people who are telling people to take this to court and I believe some of these people are Canadians and I can tell these people to go and tell the people of mines that that have in their country.

They start exploiting in Canada, which is Indian land. It will be demolished and not good forever. If you see pictures and reports of the damage that has been done there it is
incredible and for those people to come here and say don’t do this because there maybe some danger.

But in their own country they have a situation which is one hundred times worse than ours. As far as I am concerned the deep sea tailing is the safest way for us to go.
Land tailing is the worst because it has left worst damage Iran and land that people use to sustain their livelihood. That is why, Mr Speaker, I rise to support this Bill. Thank you.

Motion (by Mr Patrick Pruaitch) – agreed to That the question be put
Motion (by Mr Benny Allen) put – That the Bill be now read a third time.

The Parliament Voted (the Speaker, Mr Jeffery Nape, in the Chair) –

AYES – 73
NOES – 10

The Bill passed with a two-thirds absolute majority as required by the Constitution.
Bill read a third time.

SPECIAL ADJOURNMENT

Motion (by Mr Paul Tiensten) agreed to – That the Parliament at its rising adjourn till Tuesday 22 June 2010 at 2.p.m.

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