Monday, March 07, 2011

Playing with the rules of Rafferty in Papua New Guinea*


* Rafferty's rules: An Australian expression meaning no rules at all

INDULGE ME FOR a few minutes while I examine the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea [the citations are from the Constitution].


(1) All moneys of or under the control of the National Government for public expenditure and the Parliament and the Judiciary for their respective services, shall be dealt with and properly accounted for in accordance with law.

In a recent statement, the Deputy Police Commissioner publicly identified that half of PNG's annual budget was lost to corruption.

Amazingly, no government Minister or representative chose to deny this statement or defend their responsibility to effectively and accountably govern PNG. Of course, with Parliament suspended, there was no forum for this disastrous situation to be debated and fully examined.


(1) A person to whom this Division applies has a duty to conduct himself in such a way, both in his public or official life and his private life, and in his associations with other persons, as not–

(a) to place himself in a position in which he has or could have a conflict of interests or might be compromised when discharging his public or official duties; or
(b) to demean his office or position; or
(c) to allow his public or official integrity, or his personal integrity, to be called into question; or
(d) to endanger or diminish respect for and confidence in the integrity of government in Papua New Guinea.

In a letter titled 'Former CJ (Chief Justice) gone too far' in the PNG Post-Courier of 2 March, 'Sprox Walker' writes:

The Former Chief Justice, current Regional Member for Madang and Justice Minister (Sir Armet) has gone way too far and lowered himself too low when he sacked the acting public prosecutor Wala Tamate….

His reason that Tamate has not performed his administrative duties competently is sluggish, insensitive and balant abuse of power —when Mr Tamate is handling the Prime Minister referral case to appear before a Leadership Tribunal.

However the former Chief Justice tries to justify his actions — he has gone far too low for a person that is supposed to understand the law better.

On the other hand the new Public Prosecutor — Camillus Sambua — is the blood nephew of Sir Michael Somare who is the Prime Minister that is now waiting to appear before the Leadership Tribunal. Isn't that illegal?'

Surely this can't be true? The acting Public Prosecutor sacked for apparently performing his duties correctly and a relative of the PM who has been referred for judicial review, appointed in his place.


The Ministry is a Parliamentary Executive, and therefore–

(a)   no person who is not a member of the Parliament is eligible to be appointed to be a Minister, and, except as is expressly provided in this Constitution to the contrary, a Minister who ceases to be a member of the Parliament ceases to hold office as a Minister; and
(b) it is collectively answerable to the People, through the Parliament, for the proper carrying out of the executive government of Papua New Guinea and for all things done by or under the authority of the National Executive; and
(c) it is liable to be dismissed from office, either collectively or individually, in accordance with this Subdivision.

In a recent article in The National, it was claimed that the Department of Personnel Management did not have records of the total number of public servants on the government pay-roll.

It seems the government is paying more than 300,000 public servants, including dead persons, wives, children and even people walking around the streets but still getting salaries each fortnight.

Apparently there are less than 100,000 public servants but there are no accurate records. Public Service Minister Moses Maladina said he was awaiting the return of secretary John Kali from holidays to map a way forward. He confirmed there were too many acting appointments with some acting in jobs for more than six months, which is illegal.

Isn't this the same Minister that claimed Deep Sea Tailing Disposal of toxic mining waste would only 'damage a few worms'. The same Minister who inspired recent large public demonstrations and petitions against amendments to weaken the Ombudsman Commission.

If Mr Maladina doesn't know what to do or how to run his Department, in the words of PNG's Constitution, he 'is liable to be dismissed from office.'

The PNG people could well ask why Mr Maladina is still a Minister. They could, that is, if there was a functional Parliament that sat for the required number of days set out in the Constitution.

Can anyone realistically claim that there is a government in control of PNG at the moment? If no one is obviously in control of the country then maybe there remains just a vacuum waiting to be filled?

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