AARHUS, DENMARK – Once again we have a Papua New Guinea government that feels it needs to have another look at much-required legislation that PNG governments have been having a ‘hard look at’ for years.
And after each hard look they have made a bunch of promises and never have those promises been fulfilled.
Now the freshly-minted James Marape government is set to have a hard look at two desperately needed pieces of legislation that could be introduced tomorrow if the prime minister had the will.
I refer of course to whistleblower protection and anti-corruption laws.
Marape said his government is serious about introducing an Independent Commission Against Corruption Act and a Whistleblowers Act. So was his serious predecessor Peter O’Neill. But they ended up being the Nothing Act and the Nothing (Again) Act.
Marape says the introduction of an ICAC will follow the Commission of Inquiry to the UBS/Oil Search saga.
“In the absence of ICAC, we are working and getting commission of enquiry to look into the UBS, but what the structure of the enquiry will be the precursor of what will eventually become ICAC,” he said, adding that the introduction of ICAC will also come with a Whistleblower Act.
Both pieces of draft legislation have had plenty of scrutiny in PNG and could be introduced immediately if there was real will. They’re ready for implementation.
But the excuses are already being made.
“We always have instances where people because they have a personal vendetta against some, they can hide behind corruption issues and raise up some unsubstantiated claim so we’ll have a lieu way out of it and find the right balance,” Marape said.
Expect to hear more like that.
“I’ve asked for a deeper look into it so that it can have the right balance in which Whistleblowers Act protects genuine people who are channelling in reports of corruption but also isolates and allows for penalties for those who sends in false misconstrued evidences which eventually holds no water and can be also contestable by the law and court.”
Amongst the verbosity one can sense the ‘corrupt business as usual’ signs being re-erected in PNG.