PM leading by example

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday August 5th, 2013


PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says he has quit drinking alcohol and is travelling more around the country to ensure better delivery of services to the people.

“I have not touched a drop (of alcohol) since Christmas,” O’Neill told journalist John Eggins in an onstage interview during a fundraising event on Saturday night to celebrate 12 months in office and to launch the PM O’Neill Foundation.

“After 20 years of hard drinking, eight months is just a start,” he said.

“To do this job properly, you don’t want a prime minister waking up with a hangover, when he has to make very tough decisions.”

Asked by Eggins if his ministers were becoming sober like him, O’Neill said: “Many are quite good

“There are a few we have to get across the line.

“We are determined to get them to stop some of their bad habits.”

O’Neill said he was travelling more around the country than previous prime ministers.

“I do it simply because I feel our people have lost touch with government.

“My job is to go out there and meet the people, see what the reality on the ground is, communicate with them to fix some of the issues within the community.

“It has been a rewarding exercise for me.”

Such has been the amount of travel that O’Neill has lost count of the provinces, districts, and villages he has visited over the past 12 months.

“I can’t put a figure.

“It’s quite a large country, so it’s going to take me five years to see the majority of them.”

He faced immense challenges, including from an internet savvy population that was challenging decisions he made as chief executive officer of PNG Inc.

“Currently, we face more challenges, with a population that is quite well-educated.

“People have access to new communication tools that we have never had in the past so the challenges are quite immense.”