Indigenous people in Australia and Papua New Guinea are keenly aware of the importance of governance in achieving their goals in relation to large-scale resource projects, but building appropriate governance institutions constitutes a formidable challenge. Powerful and resilient governance institutions exist in contemporary Indigenous societies in both countries, but they face problems in dealing with large extractive projects, for instance because they operate on a scale considerably smaller than the ‘footprint’ of such projects, and because the cultural values and practices they represent are often not recognised or regarded as legitimate by developers and state authorities. Against this background a number of attempts have been and are being made to create ‘hybrid’ institutions that draw on both Indigenous and western modes of governance.
This seminar discusses two such attempts. The first involves a proposed Liquefied Natural Gas Precinct in Western Australia, where Aboriginal traditional owners and their regional organisation, the Kimberley Land Council, sought to incorporate Aboriginal cultural values into a governance mechanism to oversee selection of a suitable site for the Precinct. The second focuses on plans to reopen the Panguna copper mine in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. Panguna was closed by an armed rebellion and civil war in 1989. In contemplating a revival of mining on Bougainville, all parties must consider how to devise institutions that can avoid repetition of a conflict that lasted over a decade and cost many lives. In both cases similar themes emerge – the need to reconcile project timelines with the time required to establish and entrench new institutions; incommensurability of scales between projects and local institutions; the need of developers for ‘finality’ and ‘closure’ before major investment decisions are made, which stands in opposition to the open-ended nature of negotiation and decision-making in many Indigenous societies; and the entrenched values and ‘ways of doing’ that characterise major resource corporations and the state authorities that support them.When
Wednesday, 8 October 2014, 5:30 pm
Cecil Scutt Collaborative Teaching Space , (Rm 227), Old Arts Building