BRYAN KRAMER MP
| The Kramer Report
PORT MORESBY – On Friday afternoon, the Papua New Guinea national court handed down its decision on judicial review proceedings filed by Sylvester Kalaut and Fred Yakasa challenging police commissioner David Manning’s appointment by the National Executive Council in December 2019.
Kalaut and Yakasa challenged Manning's appointment on seven grounds. Justice Cannings dismissed six of the seven but upheld one - that Manning’s appointment by NEC breached procedures as he did not meet the minimum requirements to be selected to lead the police department.
Cannings found that the Public Service Commission had erred by including Manning in the short-list of candidates for the position.
Manning’s lawyers and the solicitor-general argued that the police commissioner, being a constitutional office, is not equivalent to a department secretary, and the police Force, being a state service, is not equivalent to a government department, therefore the regulation ought not apply.
However, the court expressed the view that the regulation did apply, and that Manning's appointment was illegal.
The court ordered that he remain in office for seven days to Friday 29 January 2021, when the position will become vacant.
So what happens now?
With the matter no longer before the court, and as minister for justice and attorney general, I intend to simply seek NEC endorsement to amend the regulation to exempt the commissioner of police from its oversight.
In practice, the police commissioner has never been subject to the minimum tertiary qualification requirement given the operational nature of the police force.
Following the court ruling, I consulted both the prime minister and incoming police minister William Onglo.
I am pleased to confirm that the Marape-Basil government remains confident in Manning's ability to reform the Royal PNG Constabulary.
Once the regulation has been amended, the Public Service Commission will recommence the process and resubmit a short-list of candidates to NEC after the position becomes vacant next week.