Jubilee Australia | Digging to the roots of poverty
Latest News

Jubilee Statements

Monitoring the impacts of government and corporate behaviour in communities overseas.

Jubilee Statements

No Amendment to Efic Act without Meaningful Reform, Says Jubilee

Release Date: 17-Jan-2017

Jubilee Australia has demanded that no expansion of Efic's mandate be allowed unless the institution improves its transparency and due diligence. 

Jubilee's concerns, summed up in an article in the Guardian today, said that any changes to the Efic Act should include better transparency and accountability with regard to its social and environmental assessment processes and a removal of its exemption from the freedom of information act.

The demands were made in a joint submission with the Australia Institute to a Senate Inquiry into proposed reforms to Efic

The reforms propose allowing Efic to due social and environmental diligence on behalf of other commonwealth entities, such as the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund, or NAIF. It is widely reported that the NAIF plans to finance aspects of the Adani coal mine. The bill would also for the first time empower Efic to give loans to small businesses which are using overseas as a manufacturing base.

The joint Jubilee-Australia institute submission to the Senate inquiry may be found here: Jubilee TAI Submission on 2016 Efic Amendment

Discover More »

Concerns Raised over Militarisation of PNG LNG Project

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.

Discover More »

How Should We React to the Death of the TPP?

Release Date: 23-Nov-2016

The TPP has been defeated. What does this mean? Why do organisations like ours believe that this a good thing? 

And where do progressive opponents of the TPP differ in their analysis from people like Donal Trump?

In an article in The Conversation, Jubilee Research Committee member Elizabeth Thurbon and her long-time collaborator Linda Weiss discuss these questions and explain why deals like the TPP are not actually about free trade.



Discover More »

Jubilee Protests Against Efic Plans to Finance South African Coal Mine

Release Date: 21-Nov-2016

Jubilee Australia has urged Efic to reject an application to take part in financing a new coal project in the Waterberg region of South Africa. 

Efic announced in September that it was considering financing the Boikarabelo mine, a project of the Joint Australian-South African company ResGen.

'We were encouraged to see that Efic had not to our knowledge financed a major fossil fuel project since 2009,' said Jubilee Director Luke Fletcher, 'which we felt was a step in the right direction.'

'But this new project would be a disaster for the planet. It would open up the entire Waterberg region, the fourth largest coal deposit in the world, to exploitation. If this project continues, we will have no chance of keeping global warming below the 1.5 degree threshold agreed to in Paris last year.'

See the joint submission made by Jubilee Australia and The Australia Institute here: October 2016 Submission to Efic on Boikarabelo

Watch footage of Federal Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon questioning EFIC on the project in Senate Estimates on 20 October (from approximately 21:30)

 

Discover More »

Clarification to article in The Age regarding Jubilee's work in Bougainville

Release Date: 23-Aug-2016

On 21 August 2016 The Age published an article, Rio Tinto's Billion Dollar Mess: 'unprincipled, shameful and evil', noting Jubilee Australia's work in Bougainville. We would like to note a small clarification to an otherwise thoughtful and insightful piece of journalism. 

Dear Editors,

It was heartening to see your publication produce a probing analysis of recent events in Bougainville, through Danniel Flitton's 21 August article Rio Tinto's Billion Dollar Mess: 'unprincipled, shameful and evil'

Our organisation, Jubilee Australia, which was quoted in the article, has been engaging with the Bougainville/Rio Tinto's issue since 2013

In 2014, we published a report, Voices from Bougainville, that presented the collective results of research interviews that we conducted in communities that live near the troubled Panguna mine. One of the questions we asked of these communities was whether they thought future economic development of the island should be based on mining. 

Overwhelmingly, their response was that they wanted to see Bougainville follow other development paths - many mentioned agriculture. In reporting these responses, we only sought to amplify the views of the affected communities, rather than recommend a particular course of action. 

We feel that further study is needed of the relative pros and cons all the economic options that the island might pursue, so the Bougainvillean people might then be in a better decision to weigh all the options and choose their own future. 

Sincerely, 
Luke Fletcher Director, 
Jubilee Australia
luke@jubileeaustralia.org

See Jubilee Australia’s 2014 and 2015 research reports on Bougainville.
 
Discover More »

Bougainvilleans should not be left with Rio’s cleanup bill

Release Date: 08-Jul-2016

In the wake of Rio Tinto’s announcement that it would divest itself of interests in Bougainville, much remains at stake, including responsibility for costly mine rehabilitation.
 
Rio Tinto is the controlling shareholder in the troubled company, Bougainville Copper Lim ited (BCL) which operated the Panguna copper and gold mine between 1972-1989, and which currently holds an exploration license in the Panguna region. Disputes over the mine and the company’s conduct in the late 1980s led directly to the bloody Bougainvillean civil war.
 
“On the one hand, we welcome the news that Rio Tinto has given up the unrealistic aim of re-opening Panguna,” Director of Jubilee Australia, Luke Fletcher said.
 
“Jubilee Australia research showed that the people of Panguna were opposed to the reopening of a mine that caused so much bloodshed and pain to the people on the Island, particularly by the very company whose actions precipitated and fueled the crisis.
  
“Rio's decision was the result of a tireless campaign waged by landowning communities opposed to the company's return. Their capacity to organise, resist and condemn the operation, sent a powerful message to international markets that Rio Tinto was not welcome, making any commercial case near impossible. 
 
“This again attests to the important role local communities can play in determining their own future, even when facing opponents with considerable financial resources and significant political capital.  
 
“Nevertheless, Jubilee Australia is deeply concerned by the way that Rio Tinto has pulled out of Bougainville.
 
“Rio has walked away from the mess that it helped cause, both environmentally and in terms of human lives. By doing so, they have further reduced the chance that there will be any clean-up of the significant environmental damage caused by the Panguna mine.
 
‘They have also walked away without acknowledging their role in inciting the conflict and providing logistic support to government security forces. This is not the behavior of an ethical or socially responsible company.
 
“International civil society, communities on Bougainville and governments, must now work together to create a plan to address the toxic legacies of the mine and conflict. And they must ensure that those liable for the destruction compensate victims,” Fletcher said.
 
Jubilee has also raised concerns with the way that Rio has divested itself of its BCL shares. Rio plans to distribute its shares in BCL equally to both the Governments of Bougainville and PNG.
 
“By splitting its BCL shares between the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville, Rio has created an extremely destabilising situation.
  
“The country has many paths to independence and economic stability. It is up to the people to decide whether or not this will involve mining and under what circumstances. Much remains at stake,” Fletcher said.
 
See Jubilee Australia’s 2014 and 2015 research reports on Bougainville.
 

Contact: Luke Fletcher - luke@jubileeaustralia.org

Discover More »

Devil in the Detail

Release Date: 11-Nov-2015

After a 26-year absence of mining in Bougainville, and after the island suffered a brutal civil war, a new mining act has opened the door to tenement applications.

The Bougainville Mining Act, passed on March 26, 2015, raises serious concerns as local communities are largely unaware of its provisions that include hefty penalties and imprisonment for infringement of the Act.  

A new report produced by Jubilee Australia analyses provisions of the Act which could be in violation of international covenants and with Bougainville’s constitution. It also compares claims made about the Act by politicians and others, with its actual terms.

Executive Summary Available Here

“Given the bloody history and sensitivities around mining in Bougainville, it’s vital that the Act is understood,” Jubilee Australia CEO, Brynnie Goodwill, said

“The profound impact on the socio-ecological, cultural and economic wellbeing of local communities must be protected.” 

A number of provisions give rise to concern. Under the new mining law: 

  • Landowners do not have veto power over the grant of an exploration license, which can still be approved despite local dissent.
  • Attempts to withdraw consent to mining by preventing access to land or negotiating fairer terms after landowner permission has been given are criminalised and can attract substantial fines (250,000 kina) and imprisonment (5 years). 
  • Mining is also considered a 'public purpose', enabling the Autonomous Government of Bougainville to compulsorily acquire land for mining despite local dissent. 

“The Australian government should also be aware of the authoritarian and regressive aspects of the mining act, and should be raising these human rights concerns with the Bougainville authorities so that amendments can be made, and consent by local communities achieved, before any mining lease applications are accepted." 

“This law was drafted by Adam Smith International, funded by the World Bank, with the transitional mining act developed with assistance from Australian advisors funded by DFAT." 

“The UN Special Rapporteur, James Anaya, has published a report on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Extractive Industries, and the UN Mining Working Group recently published a ‘Rights-Based Approach to the Extractive Industries in the Pursuit of Sustainable Development.’” 

“These two reports provide a dramatically different approach to mining, and would be a more appropriate model for Bougainville,” she added. 

“Australian mining companies will undoubtedly be involved in future projects, and their activities, including their political engagement, should be held to the highest standard, given the history of engagement on the island,” Goodwill said. 

The re-opening of mining in Bougainville sits on the backdrop of unresolved issues stemming from the establishment and eventual closure of the Panguna Mine, a large-scale copper and gold mine operated by Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL). In 1989, after industrial sabotage by local landowners protesting conditions, the mine closed as the island plunged into a decade-long war, where up to 20,000 people, 10% of the population, died.  

A referendum on the independence of Bougainville will be voted on during the next five years. There is strong interest on the island for expansion of the once vibrant agricultural sector that returns revenue directly to landowners without disruption to land and culture, increasing production of cocoa, coffee and copra. www.worldorganicnews.com/?p=27359


Discover More »

Jubilee Australia merges with The Australia Institute

Release Date: 24-Sep-2015

Jubilee Australia is merging with The Australia Institute (TAI), the country’s most progressive think tank on economic, social and environmental issues. With TAI, we will be ‘connecting the dots’ regarding government, corporate and financial institutional behaviour that hurts people, whether it be here in Australia or overseas. Post-merger, we will continue to conduct groundbreaking research as the Jubilee Australia Research Centre (JARC). All gifts to JARC are tax-deductible.

We would not be able to do the work that we do without our extraordinary supporters. The Australia Institute will help us with infrastructure, but we still need support for our critical research. Your generosity enables our research to be made available to Australians and to communities confronting the impact of Australian corporate and government policies. Gifts and monthly contributions make all of this possible, and can be made through our website.  

Why did Jubilee decide to join The Australia Institute (TAI)?

  • Philosophy: Jubilee and TAI share a very similar philosophy. TAI’s work on domestic issues parallels the work that Jubilee does on international issues. It makes sense for us both to join forces.

  • Security: Keeping afloat as a small NGO is difficult. An ongoing challenge for Jubilee is attracting enough funding to conduct our research and advocacy. Partnering with TAI promises a great deal of in-kind support especially in the areas of communication, administration, and legal advice.

  • Growth: Another challenge for Jubilee is not having the resources and staff to do everything we want to do. Although Jubilee will still be financially independent within TAI, the relationship will enable us to grow.

  • Effectiveness: TAI has a proven track record in turning research and investigations into policy change. Jubilee will learn a lot from TAI’s approach to advocacy, and benefit from their vast experience in Canberra.  

How will the merger work?  

Jubilee currently consists of two entities, Jubilee Australia (founded in 2001) and the Jubilee Australia Research Centre (established in 2008). Under the new arrangement, Jubilee Australia will be wound up, and the Jubilee Australia Research Centre will continue as an incorporated entity responsible for our research, policy reports and debates on these issues.  

Will Jubilee retain its independence as an organisation?

Jubilee will retain its independence in two key ways. Firstly, the Jubilee Australia Board will be recreated as an advisory body within The Australia Institute.  Secondly, the Jubilee Australia Research Centre’s overall work program and research output will continue to be guided by its expert Research Committee.  

What will be the practical impact of the merger?

Jubilee has moved into TAI’s offices in Sydney, at 338 Pitt Street, Level 14, located with other strategic NGOs in office space provided by GetUp!. Jubilee Australia will continue to work with the National Council of Churches of Australia (NCCA) as its partner and close friend. The Jubilee brand and website will continue.

How will the merger affect our volunteers and supporters?

We will continue to host interns and volunteers – if you are interested in volunteering, or in working as an intern as part of your university studies, you can still do this!   

Gifts to support our work will henceforth be made to the Jubilee Australia Research Centre. Donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Looking ahead…

Jubilee Australia is deeply appreciative to all our supporters who have enabled our landmark research over the years; your gifts to Jubilee make this work possible. We look forward to your continuing support of the Jubilee Australia Research Centre as we move forward to address these systemic issues as part of The Australia Institute.


 

Discover More »

Enquiry into the effectiveness of Australia's bilateral aid program in PNG

Release Date: 21-Apr-2015

Jubilee Australia is pleased to present its submission to the Senate Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade References Committee for consideration with reference to the Delivery and effectiveness of Australia’s bilateral aid program in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Jubilee’s submission seeks to provide some guidelines as to how bilateral aid might be delivered more effectively and fairly, and support equity, sustainability and human rights (civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights) for PNG communities.

Find the full list of submissions here or view the Jubilee submission here.

Jubilee makes the following recommendations:

  • That DFAT review its decision-making concerning PNG aid programs and direct its aid toward independently-assessed priorities identified by local communities.
  • That DFAT support a community-initiated and community-driven approach regarding projects it supports to ensure that human rights and community priorities are respected. This includes acknowledgement for and support of the pivotal role of women in community and for community-devised infrastructure rather than foreign structures imposed to sustain initiatives. While institutions at the higher levels of government in PNG are problematic, at the community level infrastructure is strong and needs to be supported. Difficulties occur when artificial structures are imposed by companies seeking approval for projects that local communities oppose; even where matrilineal systems are in place women are displaced from their customary position in the community and men given authority by external sources to ‘legitimise’ projects.
  • That DFAT support community-driven, local private enterprise in PNG in the development of locally-based initiatives determined by communities as most appropriate to their region and needs. This includes fisheries with onshore processing, agriculture, aquaculture, livestock, tourism, alluvial and small-scale mining. 
  • That Australian SMEs be encouraged to work with PNG communities on community-initiated and community-driven initiatives, and transparent funding be provided by EFIC and by DFAT for this purpose. Australian Aid in support of mining projects needs to be clearly identified as such, as it is often embedded in more broadly-defined aid categories obscuring its true purpose.
  • That Australia’s role in the unresolved issues which originated from the establishment of the Panguna Mine and the ensuing civil war in Bougainville be addressed. This includes the Australian Government being held accountable for its role in the civil war, reconciliation among all the parties be achieved including government and corporate actors, and the environmental damage caused by the mine be addressed. This is essential for the relationship with communities in Panguna and across Bougainville to move forward.


Discover More »

Jubilee Australia comments on the Bougainville Mining Bill 2014

Release Date: 22-Feb-2015

On 12 February 2015, at the invitation of Bougainville Secretary for Mining Mr Stephen Burain, Jubilee Australia with Bismarck Ramu Group and the International State Crime Initiative commented on the Bougainville Mining Bill 2014. See our full response here:

Note that on 26 March 2015 the bill was passed into legislation. For two very different accounts of a community debate days before the legislation was passed, see Papua New Guinea Mine Watch and Bougainville News.

Mr. Stephen Burain

Secretary for Mining

Autonomous Government of Bougainville

Dear Mr Burain,

As part of our enduring commitment to the mine affected communities in the Panguna region we would like to comment on the Bougainville Mining Bill 2014 drafted by Adam Smith International at the direction of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

We gratefully received a copy of the draft mining legislation and regulations from the ABG in December. Our understanding is that the legislation is slated to be voted on in March. As the window is limited for commentary on the documents – which come to 508 pages in length – we have decided to enumerate below some preliminary feedback on the legislation, and the consultation process preceding its proposed approval by Bougainville’s parliament.

1)      Consultation and Independent Assessment

Given that the legislation will lead to the temporary alienation of customary land, with wide ranging effects on the social, economic, cultural and physical life of impacted communities, it is important that the draft mining bill and regulations are subject to a widespread and thorough process of consultation, discussion and independent scrutiny, as affirmed in international treaties,[1] as a principle of international law,[2] and in international best-practice reporting.[3] As the final draft of the mining bill was delivered during November by Adam Smith International, it would seem appropriate to allow a significant period for consultation and revision, in order to give communities across Bougainville adequate time to organise themselves, seek independent expert advice, discuss the legislation, and prepare their response. While a prolonged consultation period would not be appropriate for all draft bills, given that mining has historically been a highly contentious issue on Bougainville, building a legislative framework over which all communities feel a sense of ownership is vital. Coupled to this, the legal complexity of the draft mining bill and associated regulations, make such a prolonged consultation period necessary, so that communities are afforded the time and space to appreciate all the relevant provisions and their long-term implications.

 

2)      Financial Support to Impacted Communities

It is important that financial resources are made available to those communities who reside on or near mineral resources that are likely to be affected by the bill in the foreseeable future, so they may acquire independent expertise to help them evaluate the draft and share their concerns with the ABG.[4] It is critical that communities are empowered to choose their own sources of independent expert advice, while observing relevant good governance procedure.

 

3)      Free, Prior and Informed Consent

More specifically on the contents of the draft Bougainville Mining Bill 2014, in light of mining’s contentious history on Bougainville it is especially important that the legislation should encompass best practice with respect to free, informed, prior consent, and echo the standards set out in key international covenants including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and ILO Convention 169. In this respect we would like to highlight a number of preliminary concerns to take into consideration:

         A. Access to Information

In order to conform to best practice the legislation must empower traditional landowning communities by inscribing them with a number of positive rights, including the right to access independent sources of information and expert advice, coupled to a right to receive adequate financial support to seek this advice.[5] By independent sources of information and expert advice, we mean recognised experts who are not linked with the extractive industries or government, whether it be through position or financially, and who can be relied on to act in the best interests of the contracting community. It is concerning that the current draft bill does not appear to afford communities these fundamental positive rights. 

        B. Independent Community Consultation

There needs to be more robust mechanisms included in the bill assuring the comprehensibility and independence of the community-consultation process, preceding a mine’s initiation.[6] As it stands, the bill places responsibility on mining companies holding an exploration license or mining lease to develop and enact community engagement plans. While mining companies, of course, have a legitimate place in the consultation process, it is essential that the plan and strategy is implemented by an independent arms-length organisational actor, with an overarching responsibility to act in the best interests of landowners and the public.

       C. Inclusive Consent Processes

More robust measures of consent should be set out in the bill which ensure a clear majority of adult aged landowning community members, whose social, economic, cultural and physical life will be seriously impacted by the project, support the venture, after receiving comprehensive, independent advice on the project’s economic, social, cultural and economic impacts. [7] At the moment, a landowner association approved by the Bougainville Executive Council, can consent to exploration licences and mining leases on behalf of the communities they represent. In light of historical examples in Bougainville, there is serious risk that without further safeguards landowner associations will not be inclusive of vulnerable groups and customary leaders, particularly if association processes and procedures are in a language and cultural form which are inaccessible to a large section of the affected population. Therefore, this current model does not appear to offer a robust mechanism for assuring community-wide participation in the consultation process or when measuring consent. We believe the legislation needs to adopt more robust mechanisms for measuring consent that ensure mining projects are supported by a clear majority of adult-aged landowning community members, whose social, economic, cultural and physical life will be seriously impacted by the project, after receiving comprehensive, independent advice on the project’s economic, social, cultural and economic impacts. It should also include measures that help communities build cooperative, culturally inclusive organisational frameworks that will empower them to participate in the consultation and negotiation process. 

       D. Access to Remedy

There need to be independent grievance and accountability mechanisms inscribed into the legislation that empower communities to seek remedies for abuses of rights or legal procedure, whether by a private or governmental actor.[8] This grievance mechanism and body must be at arms-length from all mine stakeholders. Currently no such mechanism exists in the draft bill.

        E. Human Rights Due Diligence

The draft bill needs to include robust human rights standards that mine operators must observe or face serious sanction, with remedies in place for violations of these standards.[9] Not only have mining operators on Bougainville participated in human rights abuses, this behaviour may also be witnessed across Papua New Guinea. Currently the bill does not offer a robust framework for addressing this enduring issue[10].

As you will appreciate, these comments are based off a preliminary reading of the draft bill. Nonetheless, we hope you find this feedback useful, and we welcome a continuing conversation on the issues raised within.

With sincere regards,

Brynnie Goodwill, CEO Jubilee Australia

Co-signed: Bismarck Ramu Group

Co-signed: International State Crime Initiative



[1] ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, Article 6; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 27; International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Article 15; UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 19

[2] Kichwa Indigenous People of Sarayaku v. Ecuador, Judgment, Inter-AM. Ct. H.R. (Ser. C) No. 242, (June 27, 2012), at para. 164.

[3] UN-REDD (2012) Free, Prior and Informed Consent for REDD+ in the Asia-Pacific Region: Lessons Learned, report available online: http://www.unredd.net/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=8047&Itemid=53 (accessed on 20 January 2015)

[4] UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 27 & 39.

[5] ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, Article 7; UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 27 & 39

[6] ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, Article 15; UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 32

[7] Ibid

[8] UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 11, UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Principles 25, 26, 27, 28, 31,

[9] UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Principles 6, 7, 9

[10] Un Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Principle 3


Discover More »