3 Oct 2007

PNG government stifles parliament debate on Moti inquiry

7:57 pm on 3 October 2007

Papua New Guinea's government has accused opposition MPs of pushing an Australian agenda over their questions about the Defence Force Inquiry into the Julian Moti affair.

The accusations came during a heated exchange in parliament between supporters of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and opposition MPs like Bart Philemon.

The inquiry into the flight of Mr Moti from PNG aboard a military aircraft last year reportedly implicates Sir Michael, who has unsuccessfully tried to get a judicial review into its findings.

Earlier this week, the speaker Jeffry Nape had blocked attempts to raise questions over when the inquiry would be tabled.

Our correspondent Alex Rheeney says that despite this, on Wednesday, the government was able to use its majority in parliament to stifle any debate about the issue.

"The heated exchange was primarily between the Prime Minister and Bart Philemon. Most members on the government bench were actually questioning why the opposition were continuing to raise the issue of Moti, saying that it was not relevant to PNG and they accused the opposition of promoting an Australian agenda."