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Unique Land Bills developed for Bougainville

The ABG Department of Lands & Physical Planning is committed to ensure that the governance mechanisms for Bougainville’s critical resource of land are robust, equitable, and reflective of the collective voices of Bougainvilleans. 

Through the Bougainville Land Bill roadshow currently underway in the region, Bougainvilleans are given the opportunity to provide their feedback on the proposed land bills in an effort to ensure that the land legislation process is transparent and inclusive, and importantly it respects the unique cultural and land-related needs of Bougainville's communities.

The Bougainville Land Bills proposes two underlying principles which include a proposal to not alienate any further land in Bougainville, and a proposal to have only two types of land in Bougainville - Customary Land and Government Land only.

Government land is referring to PNG State land that will become the property of Bougainville and land that is proposed to be known as ‘government land’ to differentiate from PNG State Land.

Furthermore, under PNG land law, government can acquire customary land without the consent of the landowners, however, this proposed Bill does not allow compulsory acquisition, meaning that:

  • government no longer has the power to take customary land
  • customary land cannot become government land without full prior consent from landowners and,
  • a preference can be allowed for customary landowners to lease land to the government for use of public purposes

The proposed bill also states that there will be a Government land registrar whose role is to register all government land held by the Land Registrar within the Department of Lands. The Registrar will be a statutorily protected position to defend against corruption and misuse of power and the register will contain survey details of existing State Land to be transferred from the National Department of Lands.

According to the proposed bill, enforcement of the law on government land will include statutory powers granted to authorize officers to enforce the Act, power to enter property, search, request documents and information, order of vacation of property, order of removal of structures and no requirement for order of the Court.

Customary land refers to land owned by family lineage groups within clans, land owned into perpetuity and land governed as much as possible by ‘kastom’. Customary land ownership is not limited to entire clans or even sub-clans as it is under PNG law, however, the Bougainville land bill proposes to recognize ownership by smaller family lineage groups at the sub-clan level.

The draft law also proposes that no customary land can be sold in Bougainville, however, if customary landowners wish to use their land for commercial purposes, they may register an interest in their land. Interests may include easement, lease and mortgage – these interests will be held by the Land Registrar with details of the land boundaries and owner details.

The Bougainville Land Bill is structured into four parts:

  1. Bougainville Customary Land Bill refers to how customary land can be dealt with and how interests in customary land can be registered
  2. Bougainville Government Land Bill refers to how government uses land for public purpose and how government allocates leases,
  3. Bougainville Land Registers Bill refers to registry of all government land and customary interests, register of interests and prioritization of interests
  4. Bougainville Planning and Development Bill deals with land disputes and retains the use of land mediators.

Meanwhile the road show began in Bolave last Wednesday where stakeholders representing Community Government Chairpersons, ward members, village chiefs, land mediators, village court officials, women, churches, youths, veterans and general public attended the consultations.

All Bougainvilleans are encouraged to attend their respective regional forums during the Roadshow to gain a comprehensive understanding of the proposed legislation and to provide their invaluable feedback on the content of the Bills.  

The draft Bill can be downloaded here.  

Public comments, queries and grievances can be emailed to this address 

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