Bougainville's ABG happy with mining measure input
ABG vice president confident that the people had good input in the Mining Act.
The caretaker vice president of Bougainville has rejected renewed claims that the people did not have enough say in the new Mining Act.
The autonomous government in the Papua New Guinea province passed the measure in one of its last acts before the beginning of the electoral process.
Environmental activists like the Ramu Nickel group have condemned the Mining Act, saying the people did not have enough input but caretaker vice president Patrick Nisira told Don Wiseman that is not the case.
PATRICK NISIRA: Because we have done consultations far and wide for the Bougainville region, we have consulted stakeholders, we have consulted churches, the leaders of the church and the people, we have consulted former combatants. We have taken into consideration all the peoples views as a government. To us, it's a good law, because this new mining act give ownership back to the landowners and the resource owners unlike before under the PNG regime, same with Australia and New Zealand where the state owns all the resources. But for us, having learned from the Bougainville crisis we have given back resource ownership to the landowners.
DON WISEMAN: To what extent though do you think people appreciate because I know that in this presidential election you've got a lot of people, the likes of Sam Kauona I imagine, Ishamel Toroama, perhaps Sam Akoitai who are all from that critical mining region aren't they, and do you think they feel the same way you do about the mining act?
PN: No, we may have differences I think but when they come out and talk about mining I think it's pure politics. I think this government, we've done the best we could do and we've incorporated all peoples views, including their views, into this mining act. And yes, they are still not satisfied, but they have the right to stand for election and if they think that there are things they do not agree with, we made it clear when we passed the piece of legislation, we said 'this law was made by man, so any government that comes up in future can come up with amendments according to the way they think it would be best for people.' Through its implementation we will see where there will be flaws and then we will fine tune it as we implement the bill. This has been our government's approach.
DW: By 2018 there's scheduled to be this referendum on possible independence....
DW: Do you think that you can get the province ready for that by then?
PN: Yes, we've made all the necessary preparations, we are preparing people for that important vote between now, 2015 and 2020, it's not exactly 2018 but it's in between 2015 and 2020. But we've done the preparation work and the work schemes are going ahead as planned. I think that all people will be ready by 2018 or 19 to take that vote, I believe all people will be ready. On top of that I think it's no longer a question of whether the people will be ready or not because it's been agreed by the government of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville that there will have to be a referendum held for the Bougainvilleans to make their own choice whether they want to be independent or remain an autonomous province within the national constitution, it will be the people who make that choice.
Patrick Nisira who has been in the ABG since its inception will again stand in the Halia seat on Buka.
342 people are contesting the 40 seats in the elections beginning on May 11th.
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