It is often asserted that ninety-seven percent of PNG's total land area remains under customary ownership, just as it was when PNG gained its independence from Australian colonial rule in 1975. However, in the eight years from 2003 to 2010, almost ten percent of PNG's total land area was apparently alienated from its customary owners and transferred to private companies through something commonly known as the "lease-leaseback scheme." This paper documents the origin and evolution of this scheme, the pattern of recent transactions that have so massively enlarged its scope, and the combination of economic and political factors that help to explain this apparent land grab. The paper ends with some remarks about the sources of opposition to this land grab, and the possible social and political consequences of its continuation.
|Published - 2011