6 May 2010

Call for independent committee to review controversial PNG legislation

6:21 pm on 6 May 2010

Papua New Guinea's opposition is calling on the Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, to establish an independent committee to review controversial proposed amendments to the Ombudsman Commission.

About 5,000 people rallied in Port Moresby this week, presenting a 20,000-signature petition to parliament demanding the so-called Maladina Bill be dropped.

Proponents of the bill say it will broaden the scope of the Commission's work but a senior opposition MP, Bart Philemon, says his party believes it will promote flagrant governmental abuse.

He says the opposition's decision to switch to support of the bill at its second reading was based on misinformation.

"Amendment is not for the public good, I think it is anti-public good and public good of course is the intergrity of its elected leaders under the duties and responsibilities of leadership code. We have decided that we will not support it at its current form and that further consultation with all the stakeholders should be taken."

Bart Philemon says the legislation needs to be reviewed by a committee comprising constitutional lawyers, anti-corruption NGOs and church representatives before its third reading in July.