ADELAIDE – Why are Australian taxpayers funding Papua New Guinea’s 111 parliamentarians with $2.9M (K8 million) each for District Services Improvement Fund, and other discretionary funds, with little accountability and proper procurement process?
When Charles Abel was Treasurer from 2017-19, he tried to wind back these funds in the budget, but was over-ruled by prime minister Peter O’Neill.
The personal disposition of these funds was and remains a way of maintaining support for the government, keeping incumbents in power and feeding corruption.
It should not be supported by Australia. It should be exposed and stopped.
I’ve been waiting since 2 June 2020 for Australia’s foreign minister Marise Payne to respond to a question of mine.
The question is: What safeguards are in place to ensure that Australia's recent $440 million (K1.2 billion) loan to Papua New Guinea isn't corruptly misappropriated?
Australian taxpayers surely have a right to some assurance their taxes aren’t being corruptly used.
The Lowy Institute’s Jonathan Pryke has rightly said that any Australian loan of this size should be conditional upon Stage 2 of the Ramu hydro-electric project being subject to a proper cost-benefit analysis.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has said of this project that “China is pushing [it] relentlessly with the PNG government…. Ramu 2 would probably bankrupt the national power entity, PNG Power, given limited energy demand and the estimated construction cost of around K7 billion” financed by China Exim Bank.
And what have Australia, USA, Japan and New Zealansd been doing on the PNG electrification project since this huge commitment was at APEC in 2018?
Asleep, I’d suggest, allowing China to engage in further debt-trap diplomacy.
It beggars belief that we can be so naive, lazy and ignorant about Papua New Guinea.
This needs more than a prayer session between Scott Morrison and James Marape.
The Australian government and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade need to wake up.