The Prime Minister is again giving excuses for why the unlawful SABL leases have not been cancelled. The PM is reported as saying despite an NEC decision in June 2014 ordering the cancellation the Department of Lands has been "dragging its feet" and some leaseholders have caused delays by taking legal action.
But Community advocacy group ACT NOW! says the Prime Ministers excuses are old and very lame.
"The fact is the government was told the leases were unlawful by the Commission of Inquiry in June 2013. For two and a half years the Prime Minister has on the one hand been promising action while on the other making excuses for why nothing has been done", says Campaign Coordinator Eddie Tanago.
"In the meantime logs worth hundreds of millions of Kina have been felled and exported from the SABL areas while the government just looks on."
“When Australia wanted to dump its refugees on Manus island the PM was able to make it happen within weeks despite the legal and logistical challenges but it seems when it comes to protecting the interests of his own citizens the PM is strangely incapable”
"First the Prime Minister blamed a Ministerial Committee for failing to follow up on the CoI recommendations. Then he said we had to wait for a new Task Force to report. Then we were told legislation was needed. Now it is the Department of Lands and legal actions. Will the PM ever run out of excuses?"
"The PM blames the Lands Department but the Secretary was replaced more than three months ago and still there has not been any action"
"The PM also blames leaseholders for taking legal action. But how many legal cases are there really and which SABL areas are affected? Without any details and so many previous excuses nobody should take the PM seriously”.
“It seems we will not see any action on the leases at least until all the forests have been cleared and even then we wonder if the land will be returned to the customary owners".