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PNG PM O'Neill asked to stay out of Lombrum deal

PNG's MANUS Governor Charlie Benjamin has asked the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to stay out of the Lombrum Naval Base deal.

He said if the PM is still interested to talk about the Naval Base Deal than he should consult the people of Manus and the provincial government.

He told Radio Australia that the people of his province including his provincial government need to know the impact this planned Naval Base would bring to their province.
He said in respect to the Prime Minister, there are processes and procedures to follow towards making such deals.

“I know we have the national government but we also have the Provincial Government and LLGs and I as the Governor of Manus has all the right to know about the planned naval base that would be built in Manus before any announcement can be made.

“What benefit it would it bring to my people? Will it be a wharf with an airstrip/ airport then how big will it be? What about the social implications it will have on my people? The people of Manus need to know and as such I would like to ask the Prime Minister to consult the people of Manus and the provincial government,” Benjamin said.

This news came after Australia and US sought to rebuild a multi - million kina Pacific military base amid fears that China is trying to establish control over key shipping and naval routes.

It is believed that if Chinese military were to gain control of Lombrum it would have a foothold in the Pacific barely 600 miles from Australia’s northern tip.

This paper earlier ran a separate story about the proposed Naval Base which Australian Defence officials secretly completed a study of the base and have secured the support of PM O’Neill for the project.

However, the Manus Governor said the PNG Prime Minister and his Australia counterpart don’t belong to Manus and cannot make any decision for the Manus people.

“The Manus people will be the once affected and they need to be consulted for such development to take place.
“Any decisions that come out must be made by the people of Manus. We have our provincial government, LLG presidents and the local community who can be consulted and I urge the PM to sit down with the people of Manus and consult them regarding the naval base,” he said.

He further told Radio Australia about what he described as a failed Detention Centre that was built in Manus in 2013.
“The detention centre was built five years ago and still today the people of Manus received nothing, no benefit.

“I would say that we had a bad experience with the Manus Asylum Seekers deals and I don’t want the same to happen to my people. My people deserve better and I want a proper consultation to be carried out before announcing such plans,” Governor Benjamin told Radio Australia..ABC news

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