PNG Forest Minister’s advert described as ‘a joke’
Forest Minister’s advert described as ‘a joke’
The Eco-Forestry Forum is strongly critical of newspaper advertisements placed by the Forest Minister defending his new Forestry Amendment Bill.
“The Minister’s claim that all timber permits are issued following due process is a complete joke”, says the Forum.
“The Minister obviously hasn’t read the Ombudsman reports on Turama and Kamula Doso. He hasn’t read the Review reports on Wawoi Guavi, Vailala and Passismanua. He hasn’t read the Audit reports on East Awin and Amanab. If he had, he would know these reports state all these permits and extensions did not follow due process and were unlawful.
The Forum says that as well as denying the truth about permit allocations, the Minister’s adverts mislead Parliament and the public over the impact of new Forestry Bill.
“The adverts are deceptive”, says the Forum, “as they deny the changes will remove landowners rights and increase political control over the Forest Board”.
“Despite the Minister’s claims, the changes will take away all the rights of landowners and local politicians to be consulted on the choice of logging company. These rights have not been moved to another section as the adverts claim; Section 57 of the Act only deals with the acquisition of the timber rights from the landowners which is very different from the allocation of a permit to a logging company” says the Forum.
According to the Forum, the Minister is also wrong to claim that all the amendments were approved by the National Forest Board and that the changes do not undo reforms introduced since the Barnett Inquiry uncovered massive fraud and corruption.
The Forum is also challenging the Minister to explain why he is determined to remove the Forum from the Board when they are the one voice that wants to see existing laws and regulations applied and enforced.
The Eco-Forestry Forum points out that their rep is the only Board member to have been praised by the Ombudsman Commission for opposing illegal permits