Decision to sack Barton ‘final’


MINISTER for Justice and Attorney General Davis Steven maintains that his decision to sack Faith Barton as the Solicitor-General is final and he stands by his decision.
Steven announced on Tuesday that he had sacked Barton after a court had ordered the State to pay a group of landowners K180 million in royalties while she was in Sydney for the Mining and Petroleum Conference.
He said only this week, another National Court ordered K850,000 against the State, again as a result of State lawyers’ failure to be in court.
Steven said where there was any representation by the Solicitor-General on behalf of the State would soon be made public after an independent audit into the systems.
“My point: something needs to be done to fix this for the sake of our country,” he said.
“I am sent by the prime minister to do it. My focus is on important work of reviewing, rebuilding and ushering in a new culture and work ethics into our Government law offices, staring in the Department of Justice and Attorney-General (DJAG) under the leadership of Dr Eric Kwa, the new secretary. That is my gist of my message to the DJAG Leadership workshop currently underway.
“The objective is to brainstorm around the organisational capacity diagnostic review report which was delivered this week by hired external consultants. We have the outcomes of our own interactions with the broader sector actors and agents in the recent Law and Justice Summit held in Lae.
“Together with MTDP and other planning documents, the leadership of DJAG is now in a position to brainstorm and pave the way forward.
“We want to put the house in order and build a new culture and work ethics in the department.
“We are reviewing our position in Government as a central agency organisation including, serving as the law firm to the Government.
“As to the decision to relieve Barton as acting solicitor-general, all I say it that her term has expired.
“I have allowed her to act.
“I have assessed her together with the other two senior officers of DJAG who were short-listed (including new acting solicitor-general Tanovasi Tauvasa) following an independent selection process that I initiated.”

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