5 Aug 2005

PNG minister highest profile casualty of campus row

1:38 pm on 5 August 2005

The head of an independent team that will look into allegations behind unrest at the University of Papua New Guinea is preparing to begin its work by meeting university students in Port Moresby today.

Several weeks of protest, which included ugly clashes with police, came to an end at the university's Port Moresby campus last Friday when the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Leslie Eastcott, stepped aside to enable a caretaker administration to manage while the inquiry takes place.

Our correspondent, Peter Niesi, says the Higher Education Minister, Brian Pulyasi, appears to have been dumped by the Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, who told Parliament last week that the Transport Minister, Don Polye, has taken over the portfolio.

"And effectively that announcement basically means that Mr Brian Pulyasi, who was in his electorate at that time, and stranded and was not able to get in on time to help handle the issue on the University of Papua New Guinea campus, has become a minister without portfolio."

Peter Niesi says Sir Michael appears to have been displeased that Mr Pulyasi was in his electorate rather than Port Moresby during the unrest.

But Mr Pulyasi's ministerial appointment has not yet been revoked by the Governor-General.