Poem: The forgotten generations
Poem: The darkness of neon lights

O’Neill says ties to Australia will strengthen

NEW PRIME MINISTER Peter O'Neill has outlined a broad agenda for his unity government, including closer ties to Australia and the establishment of an independent commission against corruption.

In a wide-ranging speech to parliament on Tuesday, Mr O'Neill also promised free education to students up to Year 10 as part of the 2012 budget, and an immediate reinvigoration of the nation's police force.

"In our external relationships, this government recognises that Papua New Guinea is not an island unto itself - we live in a global village," Mr O'Neill said.

"We will strengthen our relationships, particularly with our neighbours Australia and Indonesia."

The Somare government had encouraged a "look North" policy, supporting closer ties to China rather than Australia.

Mr O'Neill's government has begun working with the Australian government on its proposal to reopen the Manus Island asylum-seeker detention centre, with the two countries believed to be near a deal.

Mr O'Neill said a bill will be introduced at the next session of parliament to establish an ICAC with powers to investigate public, political and private sector corruption.

"In response to the public outcry again to the rampant corruption and mismanagement of public money, I will move decisively to appoint a public prosecutor to immediately investigate, charge, prosecute and jail persons, or groups, or companies who have illegally profited from the state's coffers," he said.

Mr O'Neill said a team of special investigators, vested with prosecution powers, will be engaged, to investigate the controversial K125 million Kokopo deal, among other corrupt dealings by the Somare government.

Meanwhile, deputy prime minister Belden Namah has urged Papua New Guineans to support the new government as it instigates investigations into the disappearance of millions of kina in public funds.

Mr Namah, also called for cooperation from public servants, the private sector and civil society as the government tries to institute corrective measures.

He also accused the opposition of using disruptive tactics to prevent the new government from governing, urging it to allow for the smooth transition of powers and responsibilities.

Sources: AAP and NBC News


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Reginald Renagi

Sounds good to the ears of our people. Let's hope this message is consistently maintained until the elections next year.

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