I can understand writing about the potential economic issues facing the country and the security issues we have in PNG, but sampela taim ol journalist laik lo putim extra gris lo stori blong ol!!
Source: Sunday Mail (QLD), Edition 2 – State – Main SUN 23 MAY 2010
By: Gavin King: firstname.lastname@example.org
THEY have risked their lives on the world’s most dangerous battlefields, raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars working in top-secret roles for private security firms in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now Australian ex-soldiers and hired guns are facing danger closer to home, taking up lucrative offers to provide personal security for expat workers in the violent slum cities of Papua New Guinea.
With the troubled nation’s multi-billion-dollar resources boom fuelling the gap between rich and poor, foreign workers are increasingly being targeted in car-jackings, robberies and home invasions. Queensland man John Ramshaw, 61, is fighting for his life in a Port Moresby hospital after being shot in the back during a robbery at his workplace on May 13.
Friend Wolfgang Bandisch told The Sunday Mail that expats face daily threats of random violence, with another friend shot at and injured in an attempted car-jacking when she stopped at a roundabout last month. Resources companies such as Exxon Mobil and Oil Search are turning to private security consultants with war-zone experience, offering exorbitant salary packages to shadow and protect executive workers and their families. Bidding wars between consultant companies and mining giants looking for top security experts can reach more than $300,000, plus accommodation, a vehicle and other perks.
Many Queensland security consultants hired to protect executives and projects on a range of gold and copper mines are on fly-in, fly-out contracts, a luxury their work in far-flung international war zones never allowed. But the biggest boon for private security will be the liquefied natural gas sector, estimated to be worth between $50 billion and $130 billion.
After four years of private security contracts in Iraq, Brisbane’s James Pomare now works as a security consultant based in Port Moresby. “There are parts of Papua New Guinea you just don’t go because they are too dangerous,” Mr Pomare said.
“Most of the crime there is opportunistic – you really can’t plan for it – which I guess is similar to the work we had to do in Iraq because you just don’t know what’s going to happen from one minute to the next.
“We’re involved in personal security and special operations, particularly when there are disputes between landowners in the more remote areas that some of these projects are based.” Executive Talent International’s Peter Conlon, who specialises in Papua New Guinea, said he was fielding hundreds of applications for security positions.
One of his recruits was last year shot three times in a brazen robbery while guarding a shipment of gold. “It takes a certain type of person to work in these types of security roles, people who just don’t like the mundanities of normal life,” he said.
“There are a lot of good operators sick of working in the sandpit of Afghanistan and Iraq, looking for work closer to home,” he said. “I had a guy in a senior security role being paid $150,000 when he first started, then he was offered $250,000 by another contractor and ended up taking a job with Exxon for $300,000. “The tax rate there is high, but you’re getting your accommodation and car and other things paid for, plus you get the benefits of being so close to home and instead of being surrounded by dust you’re living in a fairly spectacular location. After nearly three decades there, Mr Bandisch describes Papua New Guinea as a war zone. “You are paid well because of the incredible risk to your safety,” he said.
Figures obtained by The Sunday Mail show more than 9700 Australians applied for visas to Papua New Guinea last year, up from 8500 in 2007. Of those, 4100 were for business purposes, the fastest-growing category issued by the Consulate General of Papua New Guinea.
University of Queensland economics associate professor John Asafu-Adjaye, who lived in Papua New Guinea for several years, believes crime will escalate as the government continues to misuse resource revenues and fails to improve living conditions.
“It’s an incredibly tricky situation facing the PNG Government and, in turn, the Australian Government,” he said.
Gavin King | North Queensland bureau – The Sunday Mail