By BOURA GORUKILA
THE Waigani National Court has rejected an application for judicial review of a decision of the Western health authority (WPHA) board to appoint a chief executive officer (CEO).
Justice David Cannings rejected all relief sought by acting CEO Alice Honjepari (plaintiff) in her notice of motion filed on April 14 and dismissed the proceedings.
Justice Cannings also ordered that Honjepari cooperate with CEO Dr Niko Wuatai (first defendant).
The WPHA was established in Sept 2019, under the Provincial Health Authorities Act 2007 and started operation.
Honjepari, who had held senior public health positions in the provincial administration for many years, was appointed acting CEO pending a permanent appointment.
On Jan 24, Vanguard International published notices in the daily newspapers on behalf of the WPHA, seeking applications for the position, which closed on Jan 31.
Honjepari and Wuatai submitted applications and were among six shortlisted candidates who were interviewed by a panel in Port Moresby on Feb 15 and 16.
Later in the afternoon after the completion of interviews, assessment and compilation of results by Vanguard, WPHA held a meeting to decide the CEO position.
The board resolved to appoint Dr Wuatai as CEO and board chairman Musje Werror (second defendant) endorsed it.
It was published and gazetted (Gazette No. G182of 2020) on March 20.
Honjepari was aggrieved by the board’s decision and having being granted leave by the court, applied for a judicial review on three main grounds for review – ultra vires, error of law on the face of the record and unreasonableness.
Justice Canning’s in determining the grounds for review said none of the plaintiff’s arguments used to prosecute on the three formal grounds of review had succeeded.
“It follows that she has failed to establish that the decision to appoint Dr Wuatai was made ultra vires (in access of jurisdiction) or through error of law through face of the record of the decision-maker, the WPHA, or unreasonably (in the sense that such a decision could not be made by a reasonable decision maker on the position of the WPHA,” he said.
“As all arguments and grounds of review have failed, the plaintiff’s case must be dismissed, the parties shall bear their own costs of the proceedings.”
Honjepari was represented by Gibson Bon Lawyers and the defendants were represented by the solicitor-general.
By BOURA GORUKILA