Let work on Lombrum continue, Toropo says

National

PNG Defence Force Commander Maj-Gen Gilbert Toropo says work on redeveloping the Lombrum Naval Base in Manus should not be interrupted if there are issues in the existing memorandum of understanding (MoU).
He was responding to Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin who called on the Government to stop the redevelopment of the facility until the MoU was reviewed and a new one was set among the national and provincial governments and a proponent of the developer – either the Australian or the United States government.
Toropo said if there were anything missing or had been overlooked in the MoU between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the PNGDF, it should be addressed professionally in a roundtable discussion by stakeholders but stopping the progress of the work on the facility would be irresponsible.
“The parties, stakeholders, can get together in a roundtable meeting and discuss the missing things in the memorandum of understanding.
Benjamin said in a statement that proper consultation should be done by all stakeholders, taking into account the interest of all parties before the redevelopment phase could start.
He said the MoU had not captured the interest of indigenous landowners of Lombrum, the surrounding communities, local level government and the provincial government.
Benjamin added that the MoU also lacked compliance as it had not gone through the Department of Foreign Affairs and the State Solicitors under their legal mandate to ensure constitutional compliance.

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