By MALUM NALU
MOROBE Governor Ginson Saonu says the province does not recognise the memorandum of understanding signed on Tuesday by the Government and the two partners of the Wafi-Golpu project.
Saonu said the memorandum was signed by Bulolo MP Sam Basil without his permission, and should be immediately withdrawn.
He said he and Mining Minister Johnson Tuke had refused to sign the memorandum during the Mining and Petroleum conference in Sydney on December 4. But Tuke signed in Port Moresby on Tuesday.
Saonu was in Lae on Tuesday attending the funeral of Lady Hannah Dadae when the deal was signed.
He accused the Government and Basil of showing no respect to Sir Bob and the people of Morobe.
“The only proper manner of dealing with the State’s equity issue is to have proper negotiations in which Morobe must be a party to, and not a by-stander,” he said.
“As governor, I want the three impact districts of Bulolo, Huon and Lae to benefit in a substantial sense, not by lip service. I also want proper provisioning for the other six districts.”
He said the memorandum did not offer Morobe options.
“I call on the Wafi-Golpu JV partners (Newcrest and Harmony Gold) and the Government to come to their senses and withdraw the MoU, and thereafter resume the developmental forum process. Lawful process must be followed,” he said.
“Meaningful participation means meaningful involvement in negotiations and discussions that affect the 30 per cent State option of the equity. Not in the manner the MoU has been brought and forced down our throats.”
Saonu called on the people of Morobe to unite and not allow any further exploitation of resources.
“Enough is enough.”
Saonu said he refused to sign the document because:
- The 30 per cent State equity option was legally-binding on all parties;
- he was presented with a document at the time of signing, and had no opportunity to study it or seek independent advice on it; and,
- Those responsible for pushing it were in such a rush that the burial of Lady Hannah was regarded as not a good enough reason to defer it.
“This is an insult to the leaders of Morobe and the Queen’s representative in this country.”