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PNG Parliament Speaker on MPs work ethics

Staff Reporter 2/03/2013 | |

Speaker: Theo Zurenuoc: Photo: ANU
PAPUA New Guinea's 111 parliamentarians, often portrayed by members of the public as corrupt and lazy, are being brought into line by the new Speaker, with a new system that will require them to clock-in.Theo Zurenuoc said: "I expect every member of parliament and parliamentary officer to come in via a card that is connected to the accounting system, so that we have them clocking in and clocking out."
There have been frequent complaints in the past about members claiming sitting allowances for which they were not entitled. Mr Zurenuoc has also restrict access to the MPs' car park, which he said had been used by "so-called security escorts".
They must park outside the parliament grounds, he said. "When you go to the car park you do not know who is an MP and who is a trouble-maker.
"At this time, parliament is not functioning. It is completely dysfunctional. There are people holding very responsible positions in parliament who are not qualified at all.
"Those who were initially employed as security guards are now holding positions of power. The structural reform will weed out those unqualified people."
He said $27 million had been lost over the past two years because of fraud within the parliament. Mr Zurenuoc, a former education minister, has a strong pedigree as a parliamentarian. His father Zibang Zurenuoc previously held his seat for Finschhafen in Morobe province, and was deputy Speaker.
The Speaker last week put a halt to efforts by the acting clerk of parliament, Simon Ila, to order $254,000 worth of weapons to defend parliamentarians from attack by criminal gangs and other hostile elements. He sought to buy 32 firearms including a submachine gun and 10,000 rounds of ammunition, after a cache of weapons obtained by the parliament, including five pump-action shotguns, went missing.
In previous parliaments in PNG, threats to peace in the house have come mainly from rows between politicians within the chamber - and from the notoriously raucous rehearsals of rock band the Imbongs, whose lead singer and drummer Timothy Bonga is a former Speaker who lost his seat at last year's election.
Mr Zurenuoc said he had concluded agreements with the Centre for Democratic Institutions at the Australian National University and with the Queensland state parliament for human resources assistance at the parliament.
The Australian

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