10 Oct 2005

PNG Government denies its treating provincial governors with contempt

8:06 pm on 10 October 2005

Papua New Guinea's minister for inter-government relations has dismissed suggestons the national government is treating provincial governments with contempt.

The absence of senior government ministers and top bureacrats from last week's Governor's conference angered a number of governors who subsequently moved that the meeting be deferred.

Milne Bay Governor Tim Neville has described the "no-show" as a "slap in the face".

But Sir Peter Barter says the non-attendance of both the Prime MInister and his deputy, due to ill-health was understandable.

However, he says it was surprising that a number of governors were also absent given the future of provincial seats was one of the issues to be discussed at the conference.

"It's very difficult to have two jobs. One, you're a Governor of a province, and two, you're a member of the national parliament. This is one of the problems that we do have. It was done deliberately in 1995 with the reforms to be able to get a better co-operation, but that co-operation hasn't come about. It's become a them-and-us type situation which I've always tried to avoid."

Sir Peter says the conference has been rescheduled for October 21st and 22nd in Mt Hagen.