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The unique role of the PNG governor general

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Friday, 27 January 2023


Last week the governor general of PNG was chosen for a six-year term, chosen by a secret ballot of the members of the PNG national parliament.

Sir Bob Dadae completes his six-year term soon, so Parliament was tasked with electing the next Governor General.

Sir Bob was a nominee for a second term, supported by PM Marape and most Ministers, and there were two other candidates.

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To secure a second term he had to secure the support of two-thirds of MPs in attendance.

None of his nine predecessors served more than one term. Several wanted to but they could not secure two-thirds support.

So Sir Bob created history with 71 votes - just over two-thirds.

I have known all nine of his predecessors from the very first, Sir John Guise. When I joined Iambakey Okuk, then Opposition Leader, Sir John was his Deputy.

He had been elected GG in 1975 prior to Independence. But he resigned barely a year later to run in the 1977 elections.

He found the GG role as impotent and wholly powerless.

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That is how the founders of the nation wanted it. A figurehead representing the Queen.

Ever since that has been the position. A well resource figurehead with absolutely no real power.

Far be it for me to tell the Australian Republican Movement how to structure its head of state proposal, but the PNG structure offers a role the public might find attractive…or might not!

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About the Author

Jeffrey Wall CSM CBE is a Brisbane Political Consultant and has served as Advisor to the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu Prime Minister 1988-1992 and Speaker 1994-1997.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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