22 Oct 2018

Mediation could resolve PNG mess over SABLS

From , 6:02 am on 22 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.

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

Just this week the group Act Now! called for the government to take action and shut them down - something that had been promised five years ago following a Commission of Inquiry.

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

He told Don Wiseman that when SABLs began they presented possibilities for the landowners.

Logging road, Pomio, East New Britain.

A road created by a SABL operation in Pomio, East New Britain. Photo: Global Witness