30 May 2019
An appeal to the new government of Papua New Guinea
The Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea appreciates the peaceful development of the political debate on the floor of Parliament and hope it immediately turns to the benefit of the vulnerable people, of our society, and our environment:
1.The rural and the urban poor: expect improved public services, better education for children, medicines in the health centers, farm to market roads, jobs, entertainment and sport facilities to reduce the impact of alcohol and negative behavior among the youth. Resources and assets must now benefit the marginalized and the peripheries rather than the wealthier and the centers.
2.The illegal detention of asylum seekers and refugees in Manus and Port Moresby since 2013, at the request of the government of Australia, is a cause of shame and embarrassment that the new PNG government must denounce in its first day in office. The Regional Resettlement Arrangement has proven to be unsustainable with people getting sick, depressed, suffering mental illness, and dying. Their transfer to properly equipped Australian on-shore processing facilities has to be effected immediately.
3.The protection of the environment and the country's natural resources needs a legislative review, particularly of the Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) and agreements with foreign companies in the mining, logging and extractive sectors. People and communities come first; capital and business follow!
4.The legislation to establish an Independent Commission against Corruption should not be further delayed. The perception of systemic and systematic corruption in PNG is very damaging to the image of the nation and to the morale of its citizens. We renew our appeal for the restoration of the separation of powers so that our MPs can focus on making good laws and the public servants on the provision of services.
The Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea also ask from the new government an effective partnership in the planning and managing of the Education and Health sectors in the country. Other Churches share the same expectation.
It is with the contribution of everybody and the acceptance of public scrutiny that true wellbeing and prosperity is promoted and corruption defeated!
May God bless the new executives of Papua New Guinea and give them wisdom and steadfastness!
The Central Committee of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG-SI: