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What was Ian Kemish doing at Government House in PNG?

The Leader of PNG Party, Hon Belden Namah said today that he was very surprised to hear that the Australian High Commissioner Ian Kemish and the Deputy High Commissioner Margaret Adamson were at Government House when the Governor General issued the invitation to Hon Peter O’Neill, Leader of PNC to form a government.

Mr Namah said that he was not aware that this was an occasion open to the general public.
“What were the Australians doing there? Were other diplomats invited? Who invited them? Government House, or Peter O’Neill?”

“I cannot imagine the PNG High Commissioner to Australia being invited to Government House in Canberra to a meeting between Her Excellency Quentin Bryce and an Australian politician.”
“Kemish’s presence is a breach of protocol. It also raises many questions about the relationship between him and his mate Peter O’Neill.”

“This Australian High Commissioner seems to have enormous power. He acts as though he is O’Neill’s chief adviser, telling him when Papua New Guinea should or should not have elections, why PNG should not worry about introducing a bio-metric system of voter identification or electronic voting, even though the 2012 election, as predicted, has been marked by gross electoral fraud and disenfranchisement of thousands of people.

Is he now advising his mate on which parties to go into coalition with, or whom to give ministries to?”
“And even worse than that, if the report in today’s National is accurate, he has expressed an opinion on who PNG Members of Parliament should elect as the Prime Minister, and that he is “satisfied” with the conduct of the election. That view is not the view of the majority of Papua New Guineans, especially those who were not able to vote due to their names not being on the roll or rogue conduct of electoral officials.

His view on the election is also contrary to the findings of the Commonwealth Observer Group.”
“Kemish was quoted as saying at Government House, Peter O’Neill should be the Prime Minister for the next five years. This is unbelievable, that a foreign head of mission should publicly say such a thing.”
“Kemish might be in love with O’Neill, but that should be kept private. What Kemish says publicly becomes the public policy and position of the Australian Government. I do not believe anyone in Canberra would approve of him stating publicly who should be the PNG Prime Minister.”

“If the PNG High Commissioner to Australia were to make a public statement saying he thought the ALP should elect Kevin Rudd as Leader instead of Julia Gillard, or that he hoped the Liberal Party formed the next Government, or that he preferred Malcolm Turnbull or Julie Bishop to Tony Abbott, he would be crucified. He would never do that anyway, because he is a proper diplomat.”
“Power seems to have gone to Kemish’s head. He has forgotten that he is a diplomat and subject to conventions of diplomacy and protocol.”

“Whose interest is the Australian High Commissioner serving? His own, so he can smugly claim to other Ambassadors in Port Moresby that he has more influence and inside knowledge about PNG and PNG politics than they do? O’Neill’s personal political interest?”

“One thing is sure. He is not acting in the interests of the majority of Papua New Guineans, or in the long-term interest of Australia. What he is doing could harm the good relationship between our two countries, because he is meddling in matters that are not the concern of any foreigner.”

Mr Namah concluded: “Who is running Papua New Guinea today? We are an independent sovereign nation, but we are behaving as though we are still a colony of Australia.”

“I call on the Australian Foreign Minister to apologise and to discipline the High Commissioner. He should be recalled immediately, because he has interfered with PNG’s sovereignty, by deliberately trying to influence the Election and the process of Parliament electing the next Prime Minister.”