PROFESSOR Allan Patience of the University of Melbourne's Asia Institute has said that there has been a worrying blurring of the separation of powers in Papua New Guinea and that Australian aid seems to have worsened the development situation in PNG.
Prof Patience, speaking with interviewer Geraldine Doogue on ABC’s Radio National, said it was “especially worrying” that Taskforce Sweep which was doing good work in tracking down corruption had been swept aside.
He was also concerned that former Attorney-General Kerenga Kua, “who was one of the best ministers in the Cabinet and one of the most balanced”, had been replaced by somebody likely to do the prime minister's bidding.
Prof Patience added that it was also of concern that prime minister Peter O’Neill had intervened in the police force.
“Normally, Cabinet appoints the Chief Commissioner of Police and the Chief Commissioner is able to appoint his deputies. The Prime Minister is now taking over that role,” he said.
“We've got to remember that PNG has got this long tradition of systemic corruption at all levels and that includes nearly all of the politicians,” Prof Patience said.
“Billions of dollars of Australian taxpayers’ money has been sunk into the country since independence and we've got nothing at all to show for it.
“The illiteracy rates are increasing, the maternal and infant mortality rates are amongst the worst in the world and so on.
“The whole development project shows that PNG has got a long history of weak incompetent governance and Australian aid dollars seem to have made that situation worse, rather than improved it.”