AUSTRALIA'S GREENS PARTY will push for legislation to prevent Australian mining companies from engaging in environmental practices overseas that would be illegal in Australia.
This is a response to the recent legal decision in Papua New Guinea to allow the Chinese owned Ramu nickel mine to dump up to five million tonnes of toxic waste into Astrolabe and Basamuk bays off Madang.
The Greens Party holds the balance of power in Australia's Senate.
Party leader, Senator Bob Brown visited Madang recently to see the affected area and says Australia needs to take action because this legal decision is not just an internal matter for PNG.
“It's a global issue because all our oceans are interlinked,” Senator Brown said. “The marine heritage, [including] some of the richest eco-systems in the world, belongs to everybody, as well as the unfortunate locals who have tried so hard in the courts to stop five million tonnes of toxic waste being dumped into the ocean eco-system.”
He said last week’s PNG national court decision “simply would not happen in an Australian court and one has to doubt it would happen in a Chinese court. It's a Chinese company of course working on the back of an Australian company which first opened up this venture.
“They're both very happy with the outcome, because they can see the profits coming from the development of the Ramu nickel mine. [But] it's an appalling indictment of modern technology being brought to PNG without the safeguards that you would get in the home countries against this sort of destruction….
“It points again to the need for Australian laws which require corporations from Australia to behave overseas in exactly the same way they would be required to if they were operating here in Australia under Australian law.”
Senator Brown said the Australian government should be legislating to prevent Australian companies operating overseas from treating the environment in other peoples countries in a way that would be illegal in Australia.
“What we have to do set a lead in Australia and not put ourselves at the back of the row and not act in a way which the modern world requires…. We should be setting the pace.”
Senator Brown said when he spoke to government officials in Port Moresby about this particular mine in May, “they seemed very relaxed about the fact that five million tonnes of toxic waste were going to be dumped into the sea canyon to the north of this mine as if somehow or other it was out of sight out of mind, but, of course, it's not going to be.”
Source: Radio Australia