PNG whistle-blower bill ready for parliament

29/09/2011 11:51



Work on Papua New Guinea’s draft whistle-blower legislation is complete and it is ready to be tabled in parliament.

Highly placed PNG government sources told Papua New Guinea Issues in Perspective that work on the bill had been completed with the next stage for the unprecedented legislation being the parliamentary process.

The PNG Chapter of Transparency International (TIPNG) has welcomed the news but urged the PNG Department of Justice and Attorney General to allow stakeholder input before the bill was taken to parliament.

“Wouldn't it be fabulous if the people drafting such legislation allow the general public to see what they have done before it becomes law? This way people might have opportunities to contribute meaningfully to the debate around the topic and to support the legislation by encouraging their politicians to respond to it,” said TIPNG chair Lawrence Stephens.

He added that PNG also needed witness protection and freedom of information legislation, which are all part of legislative reforms required under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).  PNG signed the convention in 2004 and ratified it three years later.

The bill’s enacting would boost the fight against corruption in the Pacific nation, though Mr Stephens warned it could be too early to be optimistic.

“If this is true then it is encouraging. Note, however, that we are often told things are ready for tabling in parliament only to find that they do not appear there.”

The completion of the bill coincides with recent revelations that senior Department of Labour and Industrial Relations official, Dr Rhona Nadile, was suspended for revealing the alleged mismanagement of department funding totalling K241,867 (A$100,519.93).

When asked to comment on Dr Nadile, Mr Stephens said TIPNG would like to know the legal basis for her suspension.

Her removal sparked debate on PNG’s social media network and triggered calls for government intervention. Department of Labour and Industrial Relations secretary George Vaso, who suspended Dr Nadile for ‘gross insubordination’, has reportedly denied charges of impropriety and vowed to clear his name.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced after his election to the top job in August that fighting corruption would be one of his government’s priorities in the lead-up to next year’s general election, but is yet to make a statement on Dr Nadile's suspension.

PNG was ranked 154 in the 2010 Transparency International Corruption Perceptio ns Index above Russia, Tajikistan and Congo but below Laos, Kenya and Guinea-Bissau.