The National- Wednesday, January 19, 2011
By HENRY MORABANG
THE country’s leading sport, rugby league could come under the control of the government if proposed legislation garners enough support on the floor of parliament.
Under the proposed new law, the national government will appoint the PNGRFL board to administer the game and reports to the sports minister.
The sponsor of the bill, sports minister Philemon Embel, in a media statement yesterday after resuming his state duties, said the proposal stemmed from the in-fighting and disputes between different parties over control of the game.
Under the proposal the board members would be made up of “credible people” representing the public and private sectors, business community including regional representations.
Embel said those appointed to the board would have to pass the “fit and proper person” test.
“The selection process will be stringent and rigorous so that only mature and experienced people with integrity and community standing are appointed to the board,” Embel said.
“The game belongs to the people and those entrusted with the responsibility to run it must be trustworthy and accountable.”
Under the proposed legislation, the government will have greater control over the administration of rugby league.
The submission currently being drafted will go before the National Executive Council in May.
Embel said the current PNGRFL constitution would need to be amended to reflect the changes.
The board that will be elected into office at the PNGRFL AGM on Jan 30 might be only temporary until a new board is established if and when the new Act is passed by Parliament in mid-year.
“These proposed changes are made for the good for rugby league .
“And as minister responsible for sport, I am confident that with a good board in place, rugby league will start to make real progress ,” he said
“We desperately need stability in order to prosper and develop.
“The PNGRFL must work with the PNG NRL Bid office to get a team into the Australian National Rugby League competition.
“The ongoing problems within the PNGRFL do not reflect well on us as a country and might jeopardise the bid’s chances.
“The national government is fully committed to ensuring that PNG has a team in the NRL competition.”
Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) chairman Colin Love wrote to Embel last month expressing concern over the state of PNGRFL administration.
Love came to PNG last July at Embel’s invitation to help resolve disputes within the PNGRFL.
Unfortunately those mediative attempts by Love and Embel to broker a amicable resolution have proven ineffective over the last six months.
The RLIF is supporting the proposal as a means to get rugby league back on course.
Love, in his letter to Embel, issued an ultimatum that unless PNGRFL solved its problems and got its house into order quickly; the following actions would be taken against it:
• All grants from the RLIF and Australian Rugby League (ARL) approximately K600,000 will be withheld until a proper board approved by the government is installed;
• AusAID funding of A$4.5 million (K11 million) allocated to the PNGRFL in 2008/2009 and currently held in trust by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and ARL will not be released;
• Membership of the PNGRFL with the RLIF will be reviewed;
• PNG’s participation in international test matches and other international fixtures conducted under the auspices of the RLIF including the 2013 World Cup in England will come under a review and;
• The annual Prime Minister’s XIII match between Australia and PNG will be reviewed.
The executive board of the RLIF will meet next month and Love is looking forward to getting some assurance from Embel that appropriate measures will be taken to address the current problems within the PNGRFL to avoid the consequences.
“The warning issued by the RLIF has dire implications on the future of rugby league in this country and as sports minister; I have a duty to ensure that PNGRFL does not lose its membership with the RLIF and also PNG continues to participate in IRLF-sanctioned international fixtures.
Embel said PNGRFL need to access the funds and grants given by RLIF, ARL and AusAID for the development of the game in the country.
“The first thing we need to do is to bring back stability into the administration and management of the PNGRFL.”