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Public consultation underway on proposed Land laws for Bougainville

The ABG Department of Lands, Physical Planning, Environment Conservation and Climate Change (DLPPECCC) is currently conducting a region-wide roadshow on the proposed Bougainville Land Bills, kick starting the program in South Bougainville last week.

The road show aims at show casing the Bougainville Land Bill to the people, giving them the opportunity to openly discuss and give their views on the proposed Land legislation for Bougainville before the final Bill is presented to the Bougainville Parliament for deliberation and enactment.

According to the Secretary Ms. Lynnette Baratai-Pokas, a land policy was developed over more than ten years through a Bougainville-wide consultation and a policy was finalized in 2021 and drafting instructions issued in 2022.

“This Law has been created after much consultations with stakeholders throughout the region by my staff and captures your views on the land law and how it should be managed differently and this consultation is to present to you the ideas that you had contributed, resulting in the drafting of this Bill,” Secretary Pokas said.

Assisted by the ABG Department of Justice and Legal Services to draft the Bill, both departments are currently facilitating the presentations in this road show to gage views from the public regarding this Bill before it is finalized and presented to the ABG parliament.

The Land Bill was created to protect customary land ownership for future generations, protection to be balanced against unlocking potential financial value of customary land, provide for registry of land details specific to Bougainville and gives power to the ABG to take-over management of State Land on Bougainville and PNG.

“We must protect our land and as you give your views on this draft during this consultation, I want to challenge us to be mindful of six words – Our Land, Our responsibility and Our legacy. Why? Because we are stewards of land and what we decide today will affect our future generations to come,” she said.

Secretary for ABG Department of Justice and Legal Services Mr. Kearneth Nanei when addressing participants at the consultation in Bolave in South Bougainville, explained that the law of the land had existed for some time and the team were visiting the constituencies to present the Bill for the people to give their feedbacks.

“We have written the law and are here to present to you for your views before we send it to the parliament,” Mr. Nanei said.

He added that it was very important for the people to give their views because the people were affected immensely when damages were done to their land and water through the Panguna mine tailings which also triggered the crisis.

Mr. Nanei further explained that as Bougainville was preparing for its independence, the ABG through the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) is allowed to drawdown the powers and functions from the National Government and as such, Bougainville has the right to create its own laws on Land.

“If the ABG passes this law after you have given your views, Bougainville will have its own law of the land and PNG Land law will not apply to Bougainville,” Mr. Nanei said. 

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