Rapacious logging cartels feature in PNG’s Northern Province Governor Gary Juffa’s speech. Video: Café Pacific
By David Robie at Te Papa
Northern Province Governor Gary Juffa made a blistering attack on politicians who are “selling out” Papua New Guinea to foreign cartels with an open door policy over extraction industries, but offered some good news too.
Speaking at the Second Pacific Ocean Climate Conference at Te Papa Museum in Wellington this week, he cited the 3600 sq km Managalas Conservation Area collaborative project between the Rainforest Foundation Norway (RNF) and local landowners as an encouraging pointer to the future.
It has taken more than three decades for the area to be declared at Itokama village last November 29 by Juffa and the Environment and Climate Minister John Pandari.
The conservation region, known as the Managalas Plateau, in Juffa’s home province is the largest to be declared in the country and has expansive tracts of primary rainforest.
The conservation area will protect the plateau from large-scale encroachment from the logging, oil palm and mining cartels while protecting the sustainable and traditional forest lifestyles of the 21,000 local people, said Juffa.
However, as one of just five opposition MPs in PNG’s 111-seat National Parliament, Juffa was highly critical at the conference about the current political system and rampant corruption in the country.
He said most Papua New Guinean politicians, once they were elected to Parliament, no longer represented the interests of the people who had voted for them.
An example was how quickly opposition MPs, such as the Pangu Pati, jumped to the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill government’s side after the general election last July.
O’Neill was reelected as prime minister by 64-40 votes in August and his ruling People’s National Congress has now decimated the opposition. Twenty one parties are represented in Parliament.
The logging cartels did their best to unseat Juffa and put up six candidates against him because of his outspoken opposition to the extraction industries.
“When I was a customs officer I had some amazing experiences combating this particular group of characters,” he said.
“Papua New Guinea had introduced a new policy in 1995 as a shift away from the West towards Asia. But really it was an effort to try to open the doors to the cartels that were hell bent on coming in to rape our rainforests.”
Governor Juffa on the opening up of Papua New Guinea to the Asian logging cartels and mining companies. Video: Café Pacific
Juffa has currently turned to working more closely with local politicians and landowners in an effort to educate leaders in a more productive way of helping their people life a sustainable lifestyle.
The governor is a prolific user of social media in Papua New Guinea to get his message across to the public and in a Facebook posting this week he said:
Land PNG’s security
“Land is Papua New Guinea’s only true security [and] is once more for sale.
“Sadly the colonised mindset is enthusiastically embracing the scam … forgetting the terrible record of the government in protecting state land from theft and fraud.
“The corporate pirates are now attacking your future. You will be owned – and a landless people.”
Juffa criticised the lack of media – and coverage – at the conference, and also the shortage of climate activists and absence of West Papuan human rights advocates.
He suggested the organisers might prioritise such “frontline” activists for the next conference in two years time.
Governor Gary Juffa on the “absence” of the media. Video: Café Pacific