The Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather's resignation from the Somare-led Government is commended. Mr Fairweather has taken a decision which may not be popular with the current PNG government, but certainly is the right decision.
See report below from PNG Post Courier.
Sumkar rep quits Government in protest over ‘bulldozed’ environment amendment Bill
By PETER SEA
THE controversial amendment to the Environment Act 2000 passed recently by Parliament has struck a sour note in the Government backbenches.
Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather said yesterday he had resigned from the Government because he did not like the amendment.
“As Member for Sumkar, I do not want people in later years to say I did not safeguard their rights when I was in the seat,” he said on his way to Jackson’s Airport to board a plane for Madang.
Mr Fairweather said he had notified the National Parliament Speaker Jeffery Nape that he would be moving to the middle benches.
It is understood Mr Fairweather’s Peoples National Congress Party caucus will meet shortly to clarify the party’s position in regards to the controversial law.
“It is a controversial law. Procedures were not followed in the passage of the bill. I do not want people 70 years down the line to say that their forefathers did not do the right thing by them,” Mr Fairweather said.
“I am not against mining but I am against environmental damage that may affect the people of Sumkar in the future.”
In a newspaper advertisement, Mr Fairweather said he did not vote for changes to the Environment Act. He said: “The change, bulldozed through Parliament, takes away the right of the people to see justice in court. This is dictatorial and against every principle a democracy stands for.
“Sumkar is a maritime district. We are under the threat of environmental destruction:
• From tailings;
• From pollution from the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ); and
• Any residue pollution from the Ramu River. “The life of Karkar and Bagabag is centered around the sea. We see less fish and marine life every year. We are pristine islands – leave our environment alone.” Mr Fairweather said his position was clear on the PMIZ and the deep sea tailings project.
• PMIZ – stop it – perhaps we can have one more factory or double RD size. But not seven factories. Give the rest to other districts who have nothing. Pomio is a good example.
• Tailings – No to the deep sea system. Compromise and find an alternative even if the Government pays over time from royalties. Surely we can learn by the mistakes of others.
The Peoples National Congress Party led by Public Services Minister Peter O’Neill will have “a special meeting to form our policy on the environment. Our party leader will announce our decision this week”.
“I realise that my stand is against the position of National Alliance, PAP and others so be it,” he said in the advertisement.
Attempts to get comments from the Prime Minister’s office yesterday were unsuccessful. His media office did not return email and phone queries.