“It is quite clear Sir Arnold is embarking on a campaign aimed at creating fear in the minds of the members of the judiciary,” he said.
O’Neill was referring to Sir Arnold’s comments in The National yesterday, claiming that the government was planning to displace National Court judges, including the chief justice.
Sir Arnold claimed he had confirmed at “the highest level” that discussions were being held to displace Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia and other judges.
However, O’Neill denied this, saying it was a calculated move orchestrated to discredit his two-month-old government.
“It is very demeaning for a former chief justice to make such an outrageous statement, especially at a time when the Supreme Court is deliberating on a case concerning the decision of parliament on Aug 2,” he said.
“I have said it before, and I’ll say it again; my government respects the judiciary and its independence.
“Its members are men and women of the highest integrity, sworn to serve without fear or favour.
“Whatever Sir Arnold is attempting, I am absolutely confident the judiciary will not be swayed.”
O’Neill called on Sir Arnold to produce evidence to back his claim.
“If he does not, then, it is clear he had gone public in an attempt to cast fear in the minds of the members of the judiciary, calculated to legal advantage in a matter that is before court,” he said.
“He must now apologise to the judiciary and the people of Papua New Guinea.”
O’Neill said his government came to office with a clear agenda – to clean up the mess created by a regime whose inner circle Sir Arnold was a member of.
“The government has the mandate of parliament. I have every confidence in the judiciary and I believe this will be upheld.”