Who will be the next Governor General of Papua New Guinea?
BY GORETHY KENNETH
LOBBYING for the position of Governor-General has started as incumbent Sir Michael Ogio prepares to vacate Government House.
Sir Michael’s five-year term expires on February 25 next year. There are already names being tossed around which include former Enga politician and one-time candidate Sir Pato Kakaraya and current Kabwum MP Bob Dadae who said he would make a statement later.
The office of the Governor-General has been occupied by nine statesmen from the Highlands, New Guinea Islands and the Southern regions, but never someone from Momase region.
Unlike other Commonwealth countries, the Governor-General of Papua New Guinea is nominated by Parliament, rather than by the Prime Minister, as is the convention almost everywhere else. The appointment is made by the Queen following a simple majority vote of the Parliament.
There has been no indication so far whether Government will call for nominations during the current session of Parliament – the last of the year for the 2017 National Budget.
In the event that the office becomes vacant, the Speaker becomes acting Governor-General until a new appointment is made.
Former governor-generals are Sir John Guise, Sir Tore Lokoloko, Sir Kingsford Dibela and Sir Serei Eri (all from Southern region), Sir Ignatius Kilage, Sir Wiwa Korowi and Sir Silas Atopare (Highlands) and Sir Paulias Matane from the New Guinea Islands. Sir Michael Ogio is also from New Guinea Islands.
Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather, who is chair of the PNG parliamentary group on population and sustainable development, yesterday suggested that a woman be appointed the next Governor-General.
He said his Dirty Dozen team had suggested Dame Meg Taylor, Dame Carol Kidu and Nahau Rooney for the job.
Fairweather urged that the Government give consideration for a woman to be selected to assume the role.
He said representation of women at national and sub-national decision-making levels in Papua New Guinea remained consistently low, with only 3.3 per cent of elected Members of Parliament being women.
“The failure to make significant progress in improving women’s representation in the National Parliament since Independence reinforces the need to give due consideration to this issue,” he said.
To be a representative democracy, more women must be elected to Government.
“I am calling for a female Governor-General, as I believe it is time.
“It will be a big step forward for PNG, both here and the world.
“If a woman is not the nominee then I won’t vote and boycott the meeting.”
Government House said yesterday that Sir Michael will vacate office in January 2017.