22 Apr 2011

PNG landowner says state has no right to resource ownership

6:11 am on 22 April 2011

A Papua New Guinea landowner says the government has no rights to assume control of something that's been in customary ownership for thousands of years.

Simon Ekanda represents what he calls the Tuguba Tribes of the Hela Nation, and has been at loggerheads with ExxonMobil after being left out of agreements for the liquified natural gas project.

He's one of the principals in a new political party aiming to change legislation that grants the state ownership of all resources at six or more feet under ground.

Mr Ekanda says while the law says that, he disputes the right of the government to have made such a decision.

"I want to know how did that happen and who sold it to them? When did that happen? My father didn't sell anything to them because they came into this country about 40 years ago - in my tribe lands in the Hela land they came in 40 years ago, and I was there 2000 years ago. How did that happen? They don't need to own what belongs to me and my custom and my culture."