20 Oct 2009

Anti poverty group warns Canberra to stay out of a huge LNG project in Papua New Guinea

4:55 pm on 20 October 2009

The biggest business investment in the history of the Pacific, the multi billion dollar liquid natural gas project in Papua New Guinea, is under fire from a leading Australian anti-poverty organisation.

The Australian newspaper reports Luke Fletcher, the policy co-ordinator of Jubilee Australia, saying it's very likely the revenues will fall into a black hole of corruption unless the PNG government signs up to the World Bank-associated Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

He says Australia's Export Finance Insurance Corporation is set to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in support for the project, but he is urging the Government to reconsider this because corruption could undermine the long-term economic benefits.

Mr Fletcher says there will also be environmental and social impacts.

The economic impact study for the project estimated very significant benefits but Jubilee says the extent to which this windfall will be distributed among the people is questionable.

Mr Fletcher says for years the PNG economy has been dominated by large-scale extractive industry projects, and yet the country has seen very little genuine improvement in its standard of living.

He says of the 7500 estimated jobs only one fifth are likely to be filled by local PNG workers.