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PNG PM Calls On Parliament To Support Anti-Corruption Measure
Proposed bill would grant wider powers to anti-corruption body

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 14, 2012) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has challenged all Papua New Guinea Parliamentarians to give their backing to the passage of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Bill when he introduces in his term of office.

Mr. O’Neill said last night any Member of Parliament that was serious about fighting corruption should show their color when it came to supporting the Bill when it hits the floor of Parliament.

The Prime Minister said it was easy for leaders to come out asking him to take a position on a number of issues including corruption, because they wanted to look good in public as anti corruption campaigners but the real test would be to support the ICAC Bill.

Mr. O’Neill is one of the proponents of the Bill which he said last night was being looked at by Government lawyers.

"I am hoping that I can table it in Parliament before or by the end of the year. It will be tabled as soon as possible. The only thing keeping it away from being tabled is the Budget, but government lawyers are looking at it right now.

"I want to steer all Parliamentarians to support this Bill instead of talking about corruption. That is my commitment to fighting corruption. The ICAC Bill is expected to give the Independent Commission Against Corruption more bite and wider powers to investigate people of all levels suspected of promoting or practicing corruption."

Mr. O’Neill said this after Goroka MP Bire Kimosopa at the weekend called on him to take on corruption including "clearing himself’’ of allegations of corrupt deals in the NPF saga of 1988. Mr. O’Neill said he would welcome any new evidence regarding issues investigated under the 1998 National Provident Fund inquiry.

"And based on new evidence I could re-open the inquiry," Mr. O’Neill said. "I have had my day in court on allegations made against me in the inquiry report which is with the Public Prosecutor. Charges against me were dismissed by the court because there was no evidence of impropriety and culpability proven against me."

"Yes, I am not above the law. I will gladly re-open the NPF inquiry as a high profile independent probe that will be above political influence if there is new evidence to do so. Otherwise I urge Kundiawa-Gembogl MP, Tobias Kulang, and Goroka MP Bire Kimisopa to provide new evidence of any improper conduct by me. "I will welcome the new evidence --- not political steam. I want Tobias Kulang and Bire Kimisopa to know that I have nothing to hide. I want them to also know that I am not above the law," Mr. O’Neill said.

"Based on solid new evidence I will re-open the NPF inquiry and I will make sure the probe is conducted at a level that is above political influence, interference and coercion. That investigation 14 years ago was politically-motivated to smear my name and reputation at that time as a businessman and that of former Prime Minister, the late Sir William Skate by our political enemies in power at that time," Mr. O’Neill said.

"That inquiry did not probe into the millions kina of contributors’ money lost on the stock markets by NPF management at that time. The NPF report was tabled in Parliament by the former Somare-government in 2002 and it is a public document for anyone to access," Prime Minister O’Neill said.

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