Deal with autonomy at provincial level

Letters

IN your edition of Oct 30 you printed a letter from a John Paska with the heading “deal with autonomy at the national level”.
As the New Ireland government autonomy committee chairman, I use this opportunity to tell the public the truth regarding the issue of autonomy in so far as we in New Ireland are approaching it.
At the outset, I or we, the ‘zealots’ in New Ireland, do not disagree with Paska that autonomy is a national issue.
We go further and say it is very much an issue for all Papua New Guineans and must be addressed as a national issue by the National Government.
We are indeed pleased that the first O’Neill Government in 2012 took ownership of the issue of autonomy in first Alotau Accord.
It directing the Minister for Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs to to fast track the autonomy for New Ireland and East New Britain as pilot projects for the National Government.
Again, we are pleased to note that the O’Neil Government’s Alotau Accord II has agreed to give autonomy to all provinces of Papua New Guinea during its current five-year term.
New Ireland and East New Britain, since the first Alotau Accord of 2012,  have been urging the National Government to debate autonomy as a national issue and grant autonomy to us and pilot it with us as promised.
East New Britain has been preparing itself for autonomy since 2002 and New Ireland since 2008.
New Ireland East New Britain have been working on our respective autonomy quest under the ambit of the law.
This is namely Section 2 of the Constitution in the National Goals and Directive Principles, relating to Equality and Participation.
This declares that all citizens must have equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from the development from our country.
It calls for “creation of political structures that will enable effective, meaningful participation by our people, and in view of the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of our people, for those structures to provide for substantial decentralisation of all forms of government activity”.
We interpret substantial decentralisation to mean autonomy.
For the benefit of the public, Governor Sir Julius Chan promised autonomy for New Ireland in the 2007 national election and the people voted for him.
He campaigned of the autonomy agenda in 2012, and again the people voted for him.
Again, in 2017, the people voted him back into office to complete the autonomy that he promised in 2007.
I call on John Paska to abandon his megaphone politics from the comfort of Port Moresby.
Come back to the province to join us the ‘autonomy zealots’ in searching for a better future for our island and our people.

W. Noel Levi
CSM CBE Kt

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