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Australian lawyers to strengthen governance


THE AUSTRALIAN Government will appoint three senior lawyers to work with the law and justice component of PNG’s Strongim Gavman program.

The program is designed to improve governance, law and policing in PNG.

Two of the lawyers will be senior litigation advisers in the office of the PNG Solicitor-General.

The other will be a senior commercial law adviser in the office of the State Solicitor.

Australia’s Attorney-General’s Department, which manages the law and justice but not the policing component of Strongim Gavman, advertised the three positions in Australian newspapers this weekend.

The two-year appointments - with the possibility of a one-year extension – have a tax free annual salary range of $132,652 to $145,385 plus allowances.


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Reginald Renagi

Paul brought up a lot of valid points. The three senior lawyers will be resented by their national counterparts for the huge paypackets they will get while working in the same legal enviroment.

It is still early days but problems will later emerge when PNG lawyers are available. PNG has some good lawyers but well-meaning actions like this can pose technical snags in future.

Our lawyers just need a guiding hand and not telling what to do to make their own government strong and less susceptible to corruption.


While these positions might be new, AusAID-funded work in the law and justice sector has been ongoing since at least 2003.

Many of the suggested conditions are covered in the contracts for this project, at least for EDUCO appointments.

The problem is in seeing programs through to practical conclusions in order to bring about permanent changes in the PNG institutions targetted.

Some details at

Paul Oates

This initiative raises a few concerns. First, why does PNG need qualified lawyers to improve public service governance?

This is a straightforward management and internal audit function that requires a proven administrative skills set and not a qualified legal one. Also, no overseas applicant should be recruited for these positions unless it has first been established that there are no suitable PNG applicants available.

Secondly, these lawyers should be working directly to the Australian Department and not a consultancy company.

Thirdly, there should be some limitations specified in the contracts to be undertaken by the occupants of those positions in the Office of the Solicitor General?

Here are some suggestions for inclusion in these contracts:

1. There must be a guaranteed outcomes based, independent assessment on a half yearly basis with the Australian employer and achievement targets agreed on, at the start of each assessment period. Non achievement of agreed targets effectively causes contract termination and an automatic cessation of employment.

2. Successful applicants must sign an agreement to conduct an effective training program with guaranteed skills transfer to at least two PNG officers each year. The agreed training program to be put together and assessed by the law societies of both PNG and Australia on an ongoing monthly basis after discussion and agreement by both the training officer and the PNG officers being trained.

3. Agreed parameters are to be written into each contract to ensure that those officers recruited and the PNG officers being trained will not be in any way undertaking any work associated or involved with the defence of the members of PNG Parliament or PNG public service officers, should these PNG persons be personally or severally involved in any legal action on any issue.

4. Successful applicants must have proven, cultural sensitivity and an awareness of PNG culture and customs.

5. Successful applicants must have a minimum of 5 years proven experience in working with the same types of matters and issues they will be required to work on during the period of their contract.

6. Each successful applicant must be able to allowed to communicate with both PNG government and PNG Opposition members.

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