5 Feb 2014

Catholic Archbishop urges PNG govt to be honest about land claim

6:54 am on 5 February 2014

The Catholic archbishop of Mt Hagen has urged the Papua New Guinea Lands Department to act in good faith over a compensation claim by frustrated landowners in Jiwaka Province.

The North Waghi landowners are claiming 5 million US dollars in compensation for land acquired by the state more than 50 years ago and now occupied by the Catholic mission.

But the landowner group has blockaded access to education and health services the Catholic mission helps provide at the Fatima mission and is threatening to continue this if the government doesn't pay up within a week.

Archbishop Douglas Young says the Department appears to have misled the landowners with false hope over a long time.

"And this drags on for year after year, so it's understandable that they get quite frustrated. So if something like that could be fast-tracked and they could get a very clear answer, yes or no, very early in the piece, that would have been better for everyone."

Archbishop Douglas Young says he's fearful what may happen if police get involved in trying to resolve the blockade.