CANBERRA (PNG Exposed / Pacific Media Watch): Two Australian academics have been paid almost A$500,000 by the Australian government for two years work towards reopening the Panguna mine in Bougainville, reports PNG Exposed.
The figures have been revealed by the Australian Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee.
Controversial autonomous Bougainville government (ABG) adviser Anthony Regan has been paid more than A$270,000 (K680,000) for his work drafting a controversial new Mining Law and other legislation.
Regan’s draft law has twice been rejected by the people of Bougainville as being too biased in favor of foreign mining companies, including Rio Tinto, owners of Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL).
The figure revealed by the committee as paid to Regan includes reimbursable travel costs and covers the period from June 2011 to November 2013.
A second Australian academic, Ciaron O’Faircheallaigh, has been paid $215,000 over two years for his work on negotiation “of a mining agreement to govern the Panguna mine”.
In total, Australia is funding 22 "adviser" positions in Bougainville – at an annual cost of $2.9 million in 2012/13. Some of the positions are full-time, some part-time and some are currently vacant according to the Committee.
The Panguna gold, copper and silver mine was closed in 1989 in response to sabotage by indigenous landowners, leading to a 10-year civil war against Papua New Guinean authorities.
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