Aid money for logging in PNG
SYDNEY — Australia is planning to channel millions of dollars into training Papua New Guinean forestry officers instead of taking measures to halt the alarming rate of logging in that country, according to four PNG environmental campaigners touring Australia.
Following a meeting with Pacific affairs minister Gordon Bilney in Canberra on March 2, representatives of the "Big Bush Bugarup Tour" said Australia was wasting its money by propping up the pro-logging PNG government with hundreds of millions of aid dollars every year.
According to Gabriel Molok, a PNG environmentalist from the East Sepik Council of Women, the Australian International Development Assistance Bureau (AIDAB) was proposing to spend $11 million on training to log rainforests. Funds for alternatives to large-scale logging remain scarce.
"0ur forests are being logged at such a rate by Malaysian companies that they will be gone within our generation", Molok said. "What is the point of lengthy training of new forestry officers?"
Molok said people on the ground were not seeing the results of the annual $327 million being pumped into the country from Australia. "While our people are without schools and hospitals, the forests will continue to be under threat", Molok said. "Australian aid needs to be channelled into projects which are run by local communities for local communities. It should not end up as budget support for a misguided government."
For dates and venues of the Big Bugarup Tour, see pages 22-23.