25 Jan 2006

PNG leaders query planned appointment of Australian solicitor-general

8:19 pm on 25 January 2006

A proposal to appoint an Australian as Papua New Guinea's next solicitor-general is being criticised by two PNG politicians.

The newspaper, The National, says the Western Province Governor, Bob Danaya, and the Morobe Governor, Luther Wenge, have questioned the legality of such an appointment

The proposed appointment would be under Australia's revised Enhanced Cooperation Program within a planned deployment of 18 Australian legal officials to strengthen PNG's judiciary.

Mr Danaya says appointing an Australian would be an insult to the lawyers and people of PNG and would be contrary to its laws, including the constitution.

He says the Attorney General Act states that no person is eligible to be appointed Solicitor-General unless they had practised as a lawyer within PNG for at least five years.

Mr Wenge says unless the ECP Act provides a waiver to that provision, it could be a legal hurdle to any Australian becoming solicitor-general.

Last year, Australian police were withdrawn from PNG after a successful court challenge to their deployment by Mr Wenge.