The Community Good, a new research report examining the impact of the Liquefied Natural Gas Project (LNGP) in the Hela region of Papua New Guinea, was launched yesterday at Parliament House by the Honourable Richard Marles MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
ChildFund Australia is one of seven NGOs supporting this research project, and was a key organiser of the launch event and workshop. Attendees included His Excellency Charles Lepani, PNG High Commissioner and Bishop Wai Tege of the Uniting Church in PNG.
The LNGP will extract natural gas from the Hela region in the Highlands, condition and send it to the coast for liquefaction before exporting the gas to overseas markets. The initial construction phase of the LNGP began in 2010, with its completion expected in 2014.
The report finds that, although the project has boosted the local economy through employment, the project is fuelling community tensions because of inadequate community awareness-raising about the project, and a belief that the process of landowner identification is flawed.
There also is community concern about how project benefits will be shared. At the same time, the report notes the potential for resolution through constructive stakeholder dialogue.
ChildFund Australia’s international programs director Mark McPeak said this report was an important reminder that while large-scale resource-extraction projects could deliver economic development benefits, it was vital that they also resulted in enduring improvements to human well-being. This was not always an easy task, but was certainly possible.
“Throughout this research, the voices of the people of Hela Province can be heard – loud and clear,” Mr McPeak said. “We hope that decision-makers give proper consideration to this important study to ensure that benefits from the LNG project are maximised for all citizens of Papua New Guinea, particularly those communities in areas where the impact of the LNGP will be the greatest.”
Photo: Richard Marles speaking at the launch event in Canberra.
An SMH article on the report can be read here.