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Wednesday, 22 November




This morning I put the question to Prime Minister Peter O'Neill who I should submit evidence to establish he had misused public funds.

On account I had material evidence supporting the view he was guilty of conspiring with the former Member of Madang and a key member in his party to commit bribery and undue influence during 2012 General Elections.

My question was in response to O'Neill's statement the day before in Parliament when responding to Member of North West Sir Mekere Moratua. O'Neill announced to Parliament that he would resign should the opposition produce a single shred of evidence that he has misused or benefited from a single toea of public funds.

In March 2012 Peter O'Neill signed a letter in his capacity as Prime Minister to the then Chairman of Gaming Board instructing that the Board consider funding Yagaum Rural Hospital's project submission.

Gaming Board issued a K300,000 cheque payable to Yagaum Rural Hospital. The former Member Madang Open Nixon Duban who was then General Secretary of Prime Ministers People's National Congress Party and staff member of Prime Minister used the cheque to bribe and unduely influence voters during the 2012 General Elections for Madang Open Seat.

Duban was declared the winner of the election. I filed an election petition challenging the result.

On 3 June 2013 the National Court found Duban guilty of bribery and undue influence. The Court made the following findings

para 108 "A relevant matter to note is that the funds were secured personally by Prime Minister from the Gaming Board" The special relationship between the Prime Minister and the first respondent (Duban) lends supports to the view that presentation of the cheque to Yagaum Hospital on the eve of the general election was politically motivated."

para 109 "Further, the cheque was secured personally by Prime Minister under whose party the first respondent (Duban) stood for the 2012 general elections. All these factors point to one conclusion, viz the presentation of the K300,000 cheque to Yagaum Hospital on 11 June 2012 was to induce voters"

para 116 This in my opinion, was a act of Fraud by the First Respondent (Duban) in that he deliberately and dishonestly did not disclose the source of K300,000 cheque. This inference is sup...


Health security: part two "IndyWatch Feed"

It is striking that a government that merged AusAID so deeply into DFAT that Heads of Mission are now the chief aid decision-makers has subsequently created two aid centres within DFAT that have very distinctive and separate identities. The innovationXchange has very little DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) branding on its website, and the new Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security has none. Its an odd way to run an aid program.

In my first post on the new Centre and the equally-long-named program it is responsible for implementing the Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific Region I questioned the coherence of singling health aid out for cuts and then giving a small amount back for a new health initiative. The cut in annual aid health funding between 2013-14 and 2017-18 is $260 million, almost equal to the budget of the new initiative over five years.

In this post, I put those questions of intertemporal consistency aside, and look at how the funds will be spent, and whether the new Centre should have been set up within DFAT, as it has been, or outside the department.

One reason for setting up a new centre would be to promote a new focus on global medical research, something which the Australian aid program has only dabbled in to date. In my recent paper with Camilla Burkot, we prosecuted the case for an increase in global medical research funding, and argued that a dedicated centre outside of DFAT should be given the responsibility for overseeing a scaled-up spend on medical research. So a key question for me is: how much of the focus of the new centre is on research?

When you look at the language around the new health security centre and initiative, the main focus is in fact on operations. The centre is charged with the goal of driving change and innovation in health security policy and practice. (In passing, note how over-ambitious this goal is. At best, aid programs can nudge and facilitate. They can drive very little when it comes to recipient policy and practice.)

Medical research is just one of four components under this overall goal. It is included under accelerating access to new products. The other three are promoting global and regional cooperation, capitalising on Australias strengths, and catalysing international support. There is some social science research under the objective of capitalising on Australias strengths, but otherwise the other three are a...

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Tuesday, 21 November


The rise of development journalism "IndyWatch Feed"

Development journalism is as old as the development industry itself. International affairs and travel reporting has often touched on questions of poverty, economic prospects and social change. During the past half century or more the communication programs of multilateral institutions, government agencies and NGOs have become increasingly sophisticated, drawing consciously on advertising and public relations techniques. Oxfam and Christian Aid sponsored the creation of the UK New Internationalist magazine in 1973. Similar publications such as South magazine flourished in the 1980s and 1990s, but it was the growth of the digital world that enabled development journalism to expand rapidly. This, combined with citizen journalism and social media, produced countless online information sites. The quality of this content is highly variable, but professional editorial standards are applied in the Guardian Development Professionals Network, Devex Newswire and this blog [1] as well as in online publications such as Global South Development magazine. Development journalism is now taught and researched in journalism schools [2].

Coverage is focused on insight into the development process, the massive global body of development knowledge and the bewildering institutional structure of policy and program delivery. This discussion is important because of the way it is shaping the global development debate, expanding the range of topics discussed, the reach and the kinds of contributors. The search for more cooperative models of development programming makes it vital that the disadvantaged have a voice, including a public voice, as far as possible unfiltered by development agencies, the media or self-appointed spokespersons. Our attitudes, behaviour and assumptions are inevitably influenced in part by this debate around us.

In 2009 the then-managing editor of The Guardian, Elisabeth Ribbans, wrote: A good journalist must not only describe, but delve, debunk and decode. International development is complex, slow, non-prescriptive and uncertain. It requires the reporter to appreciate and explore the interplay of diverse realms such as health, education, environment, governance, local and national economics, and culture.

Development journalism also takes the debate o...

Monday, 20 November


Manumanu Land Deal: Aftermath "IndyWatch Feed"


Manumanu Land Deal: Aftermath The Manumanu Land deal issue has subsided through time and all stakeholders affected have seemed to move on, the dust has settled. Let me refresh your memories on the issues again. The purported Manumanu Land Deal (MLD) for the relocation of the PNG Defense Force is alleged to involve five different transactions totalling an amount of K46 million. However, the dealings did not comply with established processes.

The MLD issue was raised in Parliament by Member for Kairuku Hiri, Peter Isoaimo that eventually led to the sidelining of 2 Senior Ministers and suspension of 6 Departmental heads, CEO of State Owned Enterprise and chairman of CSTB. In a media statement on the 6th of February 2017 PM, ONeil had announced a Commission of Inquiry (COI) headed by a retired Judge to investigate the claims made, referred the matter to the National Fraud Squad and the Ombudsman Commission also for potential breaches of the Leadership Code.

He further promised to return the land to the customary landowners. Investigations The COI established was later downgraded to an Administrative Inquiry headed by Queens Counsel John Griffin which was supposed to take 4 weeks to complete at a cost of K2 million with the report to be presented to the Parliament on 28th of March 2017. These inquiries were to look at the roles of Ministers, the responsibilities of Departmental heads and its officers and heads of various SOEs. This report was never made available in the March sitting of Parliament.

To date, the outcome of Administrative Inquiry, National Fraud Squad and the Ombudsman Commissions is yet to be made public. Appointment of Ministers Duma and Pok Member for Hagen Central William Duma and Member for North Whagi Fabian Pok were appointed Ministers for State Owned Enterprise and Defense respectively in the 10th Parliament. The irony is that both Ministers were sidelined in the 9th Parliament over the controversial issue of MLD. When PM ONeil was questioned about these appointments by Member for North Fly James Donald MP, the PM defended the appointments by stating that there was no point in preempting the outcomes of the Administrative Inquiry, all citizens are innocent until proven guilty and so as mandated leaders they are entitled to occupy positions.

PM ONeil has clearly backflipped from his earlier statement o...

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