Monitoring the impacts of government and corporate behaviour in communities overseas.
Release Date: 19-Dec-2016
One of the most ominous predictions of Jubilee Australia about the ExxonMobil PNG LNG project - that landowner discontent could lead to violence, a government crackdown, followed by bloody conflict - could be coming true.
Last Friday, the ABC reported that the PNG Prime Minister is deploying the PNG defence force for six months around the PNG LNG project areas in the country's highlands. The ABC, in the same report, said that dozens of people had died there recently as a result of 'tribal violence'.
Jubilee Australia Director Luke Fletcher questioned the characterisation of the violence as simply tribal. 'If that is so, why has it suddenly broken out now, just as landowner unhappiness with the project escalates? And why engage Exxon and Oil Search (project operators) to assist with policing the area?'
'Jubilee has had concerns about the potential militarisation of the project since its inception,' said Mr Fletcher. 'We first raised these concerns in 2009 in our Risky Business report, and more fully developed them in 2012 with Pipe Dreams.'
In its 2012 Pipe Dreams report, Jubilee Australia warned that the unrealistic promises made by the Government of PNG and the project proponents about the benefits of the project may well lead to landowner discontent. Jubilee Australia further warned that if this discontent caused some low-level conflict, the PNG might send in the military, which could lead to escalation and bloody civil conflict in the area.
'DFAT, Efic and the Australian Government blithely dismissed our concerns about the project in 2009 and directed Efic, our export credit agency, to support the project. Australian taxpayers dollars funded this looming disaster,' he said.
For more details from Jubilee's Pipe Dreams, see Chapter 5 of Pipe Dreams - especially pp 63-65 and Chapter 3 of' Risky Business, especially p. 44. Both can be downloaded here.