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Solomon Islands Aid Money scandal

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An Australian company has blown the whistle on the Morrison Government this week regarding lost deals with the Solomon Islands Government. In 2019, the Australian owned and operated company Pelena Energy was set to begin installing micro-hydroelectric systems in the Solomon Islands in a $5 million aid deal. As a part of the deal, it is alleged that hundreds of thousands of dollars of this money allocated specifically for Pacific infrastructure would go directly to a private Australian political lobbyist. It has been reported that the amount of money that was to go to the political lobbyist was $230,000, although this has not been verified.

Managing Director of Pelena Energy, Peter Lynch says that he could not accept the deal on the grounds that we regarded it as unethical and damaging to Australia’s democracy. ‘We believed that by accepting the offer, we would have been eroding the responsibility and role of our elected representatives by encouraging the growth of private consultants to gain considerable financial reward from public funds; funds that should be going to those that need it more’, Mr. Lynch said. ‘We would have been selling out Australia’s democracy and effectively indicating our local MP’s are impotent as our representatives in Canberra, if we had proceeded with the project. Surely the fact that our MP’s needed to engage a political lobbyist to do their work suggests a broken system,’ he added.

Mr. Lynch also said that in October 2020, Pelena Energy were advised by a representative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that the behavior by the Morrison Government was illegal. Pelena Energy were asked to submit a report of the events to DFAT, which they did.

Pelena Energy has decided to go public on the issue at this time because of the recent events surrounding discussions between the Solomon Islands Government and the Chinese Military. Mr. Lynch said that he could not help but reflect that if his company had been honorably engaged by the Australian Government back in 2019, the people of the Solomon Islands would have been on a path to real and sustainable development, and their government wouldn’t have needed to look outwardly and away from Australia for assistance. His Letter to the Editor detailing the matter, ‘Australia’s aid a vacuum for Chinese military’, was published in the Don Dorrigo Gazette on 5/4/22. Mr. Lynch has contacted both National Party Federal and State MP’s about his intention to go public on the events of 2019. He also contacted other political candidates for Cowper running at the upcoming Federal Election.

Pelena Energy, located in Dorrigo, NSW was the preferred supplier of micro-hydroelectric technology to the Solomon Islands Government. They are an Australian manufacturing success story and had achieved their success from over 24 years of hard work. When they declined the deal by the Morrison Government in 2019, it cost them significantly, both personally and financially. Mr. Lynch believes that while the Chinese Government is offering ‘boots on the ground’ development outcomes to the Solomon Islands, including potential military partnerships, the Australian Government continues to overly fund consultants’ reports and feasibility studies. It would appear that they are also choosing to fund political lobbyists as well.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Peter for going public on this, it’s such a shame as you have worked so hard and jumped through some near impossible hoops to bring them fresh clean water, love your dedication, commitment and vision
    Lynn & Jim

  2. Mr Lynch clearly does not understand the Solomon Islands if he thinks $5m of hydro projects would have put the Sols on a path to “real and sustainable development.”
    Sogavare’s engagement with China had little to do with relations with Australia. There’s a lot in this article that doesn’t ring true to how aid projects are delivered. Just my thoughts.

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