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Australian govt loan under fire for supporting destructive gas project in PNG

Australian Greens spokesperson for aid and development Senator Lee Rhiannon said that the Labor government's $500 million allocation to PNG's largest natural resource development is under a cloud following the release of a report that reveals contract favouritism to ExxonMobil and local corruption means few if any benefits will flow to ordinary people.

"A clear conclusion from this report is that Australian export credit loans are nothing more than corporate welfare that damage the livelihoods and human rights of local people," Senator Rhiannon said.

"I congratulate Jubilee Australia for their report, ‘Pipe Dreams'. Jubilee has undertaken extensive work examining where the benefits accrue from the massive liquefied natural gas project led by ExxonMobil with involvement of Australian companies Santos and Oil Search.

"Following the release of this report serious questions now hang over the decision by the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation to stump up almost half a billion dollars to support ExxonMobil's controversial Gas Project in PNG.

"EFIC has made too many decisions behind closed doors and without sufficient transparency.

"The PNG LNG project has been haunted by controversy from day one and it is becoming clear that any supposed benefits are outweighed by the detrimental impact on the PNG economy and the livelihoods of locals.

"If EFIC was doing its job its staff would have known about these problems.

"It is not good enough for EFIC to throw money at a project and then wash their hands of the negative impacts. EFIC needs to ensure that human rights are protected and that the people of PNG gain considerable benefit before pouring money into such a project.

"This cloud hanging over EFIC's PNG LNG project is not an isolated one, but comes on top of controversies surrounding loans to Leighton Offshore in Iraq which has undergone investigation by the Australian Federal Police and a $15 million loan to African Underground Mining Services Pty Ltd for the Ahafo Gold Mine.

"In May the Productivity Commission made a number of strong recommendations to improve transparency and accountability for environmental and social risks.

"The government needs to take a serious look at EFIC's record and embrace these recommendations," Senator Rhiannon said.



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