High commissioner’s presence queried

Main Stories, National

The National, Friday 03rd August 2012

PNG Party leader, Belden Namah said yesterday that he was surprised that Australian High Commissioner Ian Kemish and Deputy High Commissioner Margaret Adamson were at Government House on Wednesday when the governor-general invited Peter O’Neill, leader of PNC, to form a government.
 Namah also accused Kemish of interfering with Papua New Guinea’s internal politics and demanded his recall to Australia.
“What were the Australians doing there?  Were other diplomats invited?   Who invited them?  Government House or Peter O’Neill?
“Other countries must not intervene and dictate the formation of government of a sovereign nation,” he said.
“I cannot imagine the PNG High Commissioner to Australia being invited to the Government House in Canberra to meet Her Excellency Quentin Bryce and Australian politicians during such occasions.”
He said that Kemish’s presence was breach of protocol as it raised many questions about the relationship between him and O’Neill.
“And even worse than that, if the report in today’s The National is accurate, he has expressed an opinion on who PNG MPs should elect as the Prime Minister, and that he is `satisfied’ with the conduct of the election.   
“Kemish was quoted as saying at Government House that Peter O’Neill should be the Prime Minister.”
A spokesperson for the Australian High Commission told The National diplomats had been at the ceremony after assurances from the Electoral Commission and Government House that it was appropriate to attend.
“Australia naturally has an interest in the process given its enormous logistical support for the elections. 
“This included the transportation of over 2,700 PNG defence force and police personnel to remote locations across the country.”
She said Kemish did not make any comments about either the quality of the elections, or who should be elected as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. 
“The high commissioner has made no public comments.
“We agree completely that these are matters for Papua New Guineans, not Australians. 
 “Australia looks forward to working with whichever government Papua New Guineans elect.”