BY PHIL FITZPATRICK
UP THERE IN THE SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS, Exxon Mobil maintains high, double chain link, razor wire-topped fences around its liquefied natural gas facilities.
The space between is patrolled by guards with dogs. No one is allowed in through the gates without a full body search.
When Australia’s shadow foreign minister Julie Bishop said she had been to the highlands and seen the locals and the project this is what she was talking about.
I don't know whether she actually stuck a toe outside the gates.
The people inside the fences, particularly the Americans, are paranoid about being attacked and murdered.
A couple of weeks ago the police were routed at the quarry landslide site and their vehicles trashed by a bunch of Huli women.
Exxon Mobil closes facilities down and evacuates expatriates by air at the slightest hint of unrest. An unrelated clan fracas up the road will do the trick.
The project runs very much like the notorious Freeport mine in West Papua. Flying PNG Defence Force troops in will complete the picture.
And there are similar setups operating at other mine sites like Porgera and Ramu.
I predict that the next incident at the LNG project site will be soldiers fighting with the policemen who already there.