Stay out: CJ tells Kramer

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CHIEF Justice Sir Gibbs Salika has reminded Justice Minister Bryan Kramer not to interfere with the administration of the judiciary, in particular, the appointment of judges.
Sir Gibbs revealed this yesterday after an Australian newspaper reported on Sunday that Kramer had requested the Australian government to send a Federal Court judge to help the PNG judiciary.
Sir Gibbs said he had asked Kramer to explain why he made the comment as reported, and was satisfied with his explanation.
But Sir Gibbs said he reminded Kramer not to interfere with the administration of the judiciary.
Sir Gibbs said he told Kramer that issues concerning the appointment of judges from the Federal Court in Australia were handled by the PNG judiciary and the Federal Court of Australia – as per a memorandum of understanding (MOU) they signed in 2009.
The Australian media report said Kramer recently wrote to the Australian Government to provide a judge from the Federal Court after two PNG judges recently died of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).
“Our judiciary needs support at this difficult time, in relation to dealing with Covid-19 caused backlogs in chambers and trial list matters,” Kramer said in the letter.
“The existing support of two Australian judges in the appellate jurisdiction of the PNG Supreme Court has not been utilised during 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 and does not meet our current needs,” he said.
“I would appreciate if you would consider a request for one of your Federal judges with past experience to be temporarily seconded to our National and Supreme Courts at this time of need.”
Sir Gibbs and Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia James Allsop in a joint statement said the Federal Court had offered two judges who already had appointments to the PNG Courts to undertake extended periods of duty next year.
Justices Berna Collier and John Logan took up appointments in PNG in 2011, in response to a request by then Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia.
“Until prevented last year by international travel restrictions, the two judges each visited PNG three and sometimes four weeks per year thereafter so that one was in attendance at each sitting of the Supreme Court at Port Moresby,” Sir Gibbs and Allsop said.
The two judges have volunteered to return at the earliest opportunity in 2022.
The PNG judiciary this year lost Justices Danajo Koeget, Nicholas Kirriwom, Regina Sagu, and Jim Wala Tamate.
Meanwhile, Kramer in a statement said he explained to Sir Gibbs that the request was made “at the direction of Prime Minister (James Marape) to commence discussion at government-to-government level under the PNG-Australia partnership programme.”
“Of course, any further discussions would have been in full consultation with the Judicial Services within the existing MOU between the PNG and Australian judiciaries,” Kramer said.
He also said the story was misreported in both the Australia and PNG media.
“I never issued a media statement nor did I take issue with Australian Government response which was appropriate given the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19,” Kramer said.