6 Nov 2013

PNG public opinion sought over planned ICAC

5:50 pm on 6 November 2013

Papua New Guinea's National Research Institute is calling for people to voice their opinions on the legislation for an Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The establishment of an ICAC is seen as a vital cog in the efforts of the Peter O'Neill government to overcome what has been called a systemic problem in PNG - something that has cost it hundreds of millions of kina.

An ICAC requires a constitutional amendment and legislation for this is expected to be presented to parliament shortly.

The NRI is to hold public consultations on 7 November.

Don Wiseman asked a research fellow with the NRI's governance research programme, Dr Fiona Hukula, what an ICAC might achieve in PNG.

FIONA HUKULA: The establishment of an ICAC will hopefully see cases of corruption going through to this body to be addressed more efficiently maybe if we can say it that way. Because we also must remember that here in PNG we have other institutional organisations that are mandated to look into these issues, as well.

DON WISEMAN: And these organisations have existed for some time, haven't they? So one would wonder, to a certain extent, what difference it would make to have yet another body that effectively becomes a watchdog.

FIONA HUKULA: Yes. You're very correct in asking that question that what really will an ICAC or an Independent Commission Against Corruption do in terms of addressing this issue, which is an ongoing problem in this country. And I think this is where the government of Peter O'Neill has come in, and through the national anti-corruption strategy technical working group and look at how the public wants to see this addressed. I believe there were public forums or consultations earlier this year looking at how an ICAC should be established and what it should consist of.

DON WISEMAN: With these people that you're bringing together on Thursday, what is it that you hope will emerge from that meeting?

FIONA HUKULA: We hope that this public consultation and the presentations by the various speakers that we've invited to talk will continue to give that insight or opinion, and we hope that our parliamentarians will take note and think about these things prior to their debate.