Mediation advocated to solve PNG land lease bitterness

11:36 am on 19 October 2018

The Catholic Archbishop of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea believes mediation could end the years of anger and bitterness engendered by controversial land leases.

The church has been representing landowners in the West Pomio area of East New Britain in a battle over a Special Agricultural and Business Lease signed with multi national logger and palm oil producer, Rimbunan Hijau.

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

The leases known as SABLs have been hugely controversial across PNG.

Archbishop Panfilo said the schemes have been disastrous, but he said until the government finds the courage to change the law, a mediated settlement such as they concluded in West Pomio could work.

"By obliging each developer to re-negotiate the agreement according to very strict parameters, that could be a saving grace, because in our case with the mediation, it is not RH that submits the contract, it is the landowners who submit their proposal for RH to accept or not, or discuss, something like that," said Archbishop Panfilo.