Seminar: "Deepening Decentralisation in PNG"

16 November 2017

Dr Eric Kwa is the head of the Constitution and Law Reform Commission of Papua New Guinea. In this seminar, he presented the PNG governments proposals for devolution in their historical context and discuss the impacts that this reform will have on wider issues of development, corruption and good governance in PNG.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) gained its independence from Australia on 16 September 1975. Its political and legal systems are adaptations of the Australian model. PNG has a population of about eight million people, and is the largest Pacific Island nation, apart from Australia. The country is a constitutional democracy and has her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II as its Head of State. PNG has 22 subnational governments and about 320 local-level governments. These two lower tiers of government are demarcated along tribal and cultural boundaries. At independence in 1975, the primary aim of devolution was unity. As a country of diverse cultures and peoples, the pre-independence leaders were more concerned about the unity of the people as one nation, than development or other political, economic or social considerations. In 1976, the country confronted its first wave of devolution, triggered by the threats of secession by Bougainville. The Government hastily approved and implemented a decentralised system of government which was described as semi-federal. After almost two decades, the decentralised system went through a major reform in 1995. In 2017, the Government has agreed to push through with the third wave of reforms to the decentralised system of government in PNG. This seminar will to present the government’s proposals on devolution and discuss the impacts this reform will have on the wider issues of development, corruption and good governance in PNG.