Commission of Inquiry

  • 358 ha
  • 68,300 ha
  • 470,642 ha
  • 21,108 ha
  • 56,592 ha
  • 632,538 ha

The Commission of Inquiry into SABLs

The Commission was given broad terms of reference to inquire into and report the legal authority and procedure of SABLs and FCAs. This included inquiring and reporting on customary ownership and disputes, prior consent and approval by customary landholders (CLH), approvals, and permits from the Departments of Agriculture and Livestock, Environment and Conservation, Lands and Physical Planning, and the PNG Forest Authority (PNGFA). The Commission also aimed to determine if any unethical or criminal conduct may have occurred and to refer any matter of criminal conduct to law enforcement authorities for prosecution. On 2 August 2011, Parliament passed a motion that the prime minister’s office was vacant due to Sir Michael Somare being absent for three consecutive sittings, and Peter O’Neill was sworn in as the new Prime Minister on a vote of 70 to 24 members.

Belden Namah was selected as his Deputy. The new government tacitly approved the newly formed Commission through granting funds and an extension to 21 March 2012. Due to a lack of adequate funding by the government and the “loss” of documents by the Department of Lands and Physical Planning (DLPP), the Commission’s Report was not finalized until May 2012.

The Final Report faced continual delays and procedural blocks to its ratification by the Parliament. The only interests conceivably affected by the tabling of the Commission’s Report are those reaping profits from exporting logs cut from within SABLs.