30 Mar 2007

Nauru constitutional review focuses on accountability

3:57 pm on 30 March 2007

A constitutional review committee in Nauru has called for increased government accountability.

Radio Australia reports that the 1968 constitution was reviewed after concern about financial mismanagement and the destruction of the island's resources and environment.

The three-member review commission held 40 public meetings last year, and say there's a clear indication that Nauru's citizens do not trust their government and want greater accountability.

The commission has recommended that the president be elected by popular vote, rather than by parliament.

To avoid political deadlocks, it says the parliamentary speaker should not be an MP, and should have the ability to cast a neutral deciding vote.

It also recommends the abolition of the right of Nauru citizens to appeal court decisions to Australia's High Court; the formation of a Public Service Commission, and tighter accounting controls on public spending.

The review has also called for the introduction of a code of leadership for MPs and public officials, and the creation of an ombudsman's office.

The recommendations are to be debated in a constitutional convention in May.