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O’Neill rejects Oil Search allegations

Thursday 15 October 2015 | Published in Regional


PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s prime minister Peter O’Neill has rejected allegations that proper process was not followed to take out a $1.3 billion loan to buy shares in the nation’s biggest company, Oil Search.

On Monday, founding prime minister Sir Michael Somare and fellow former prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta urged further investigation into the government’s decision to borrow the money, shortly after the pair resigned from the ruling National Alliance (NA) party.

Their call followed allegations published by Fairfax Media last week that the loan had been obtained without due process.

In a statement on Wednesday, O’Neill accused Fairfax journalist John Garnaut of having a conflict of interest in writing the story because he is the son of a former consultant to Somare, Ross Garnaut, who has been banned from entering PNG.

“The conflict of interest in this reporting draws into question balance and credibility in the Fairfax newsroom,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill also accused Somare and Morauta of “playing politics” and took aim at their legacy in government.

“The Morauta-Somare years are known as the ‘lost decade for PNG’ when government failed the people and ignored basic services,” O’Neill said in a statement.

“For ten years hospitals went into decline, schools were closing down and children were on the streets.

“When in power they were both living in their own worlds and were totally disconnected from the people.”

O’Neill said he would not comment further on matters currently before court.