Atiyafa bill is nonsensical

Editorial, Normal

The National, Monday 20th August, 2012

ROBERT Atiyafa’s proposed bill is a copout. It is nonsense. It must not see light of day.
As a gimmick to attract media and public attention, we can say it has had spectacular and instant success.
As a proposal for legislation to join the body of PNG laws, nothing could be more farfetched, more stupid.
Atiyafa argues that because all the past inquiries have cost millions of kina and because nothing has come out of them, that they are a waste of time and must be done away with.
He is quite wrong of course.
No criminal prosecution might have resulted but each inquiry has revealed into light of day deeds and such massive fraud and corruption that might have remained in the dark and festered and eaten away at PNG’s internal organs.
As a letter writer suggests today, Atiyafa must has something he does not want an inquiry to reveal in the near future.
Because of the public nature of most inquiries, many Papua New Guineans and now much of the world thanks to the internet and social media, know what has been going on. That itself has alerted the public to immoral and illegal deeds and cautioned those with itchy fingers.
The recent inquiry into the sinking of the Rabaul Queen revealed not only a shipping company’s negligence but the state and state agencies’ failure to insist on standard safety practices across the entire shipping industry.
The inquiry into the Finance Department revealed fraud on a massive scale. Likewise the NPF inquiry revealed board and management excesses over and above stipulated investment guidelines resulting in a write down of a quarter of every worker’s savings in the fund.
No, inquiries have performed their appointed tasks. It is the state agencies which are responsible for carrying the findings further that have failed.
The fraud squad has failed big time in further investigating findings from an inquiry and bringing perpetrators to justice. Police prosecution has failed big time in not putting together cases that will hold up in court.
There are not enough state lawyers to provide the state with adequate defence in courts.
These shortfalls are correctable with the right political will and adequate resources.
The country does not need more laws and new task forces but implementation of existing laws and resourcing of existing institutions.
Atiyafa needs to savour his political victory for a while yet then sit down and put his thinking cap on and come up with better proposals than the ill-thought out one he has dreamt up overnight to do away with commissions of inquiries.
He claims his proposal is drawn from deep convictions he has held as a former premier of Eastern Highlands and as a member of the Constitutional Review Commission for a number of years. Thank goodness he did not hatch that proposal at the CRC.
As our correspondent Susan Merrill states in her article, printed below: “The private member’s bill of newly-elected MP Robert Atiyafa, if passed, will represent an unparalleled travesty of justice in PNG on a massive scale.
“The proposed bill both vindicates and encourages further corruption. It proposes an unequal and unfair administration of justice dressed up as pragmatism.  The fight against corruption will not be assisted by a lack of governmental will to prosecute its own offending peers.    
“No. Let the judiciary do its job, give investigators more teeth, pursue justice with more vigour, that’s the real answer.”
We agree wholeheartedly.
Strike down this nonsense before it gains root in the murky corruption-filled Waigani swamp.