Gas landowners query logic over sacking

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday, June 8th 2011

GAS landowners from Southern Highlands have raised concerns over the sacking of Petroleum and Energy Minister Willam Duma and Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Don Polye.
Juha Landowner Association chairman Hengebe Haluya said on Monday acting Prime Minister Sam Abal “must come out clear on the reasons for the sacking of the two ministers”.
“If he sacks them, he must provide evidence of what wrong they have committed,” Haluya said.
Hides leaders Stanis Talu and Willie Wandiya demanded that the two senior highlands politicians be reinstated to their ministerial portfolios immediately to avoid instability among the ruling government coalition, fearing that a split involving members of the United Resources Party and the highlands bloc in National Alliance was likely.
Talu said in the event that the decision was not retracted, a Southern Highlander should not be given the petroleum and energy portfolio, opting for Aitape-Lumi MP and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister Patrick Pruaitch to be given the responsibility.
Abal confirmed the sackings on Monday, citing “insubordination, indiscipline and not cooperating” as the reasons for the decision.
As of yesterday and last night, it was understood that NA members loyal to Polye had met and as did the URP caucus.
However, the outcomes of those meetings could not be established.
Haluya said the coalition partners, including URP, voted in Sir Michael Somare to become prime minister and Abal was given the opportunity to be acting prime minister on a golden platter.
“When he wants to take such drastic disciplinary actions against ministers and leaders of the coalition, he must seek the advice of the prime minister.”
He said if Abal wanted to sack the ministers over non-performance and the LNG issues, “then he must be fair and sack Finance and Treasury Minister Peter O’Neill”.
Haluya said O’Neill had released K13 million of infrastructure development grant (IDG) to the Southern Highlands provincial government on May 24 this year.
“The IDG funding was locked into the umbrella benefits sharing agreement in Kokopo and cannot be released to the provincial government.
“What O’Neill did is outside of the July 2009 UBSA agreement,” Haluya claimed.
He warned that if Abal continued cracking the whip, “he will dismantle the coalition government on the eve of the general election”.