Weekly Commentaries

This is Sunday Chronicle's weekly commentaries on various issues of interest affecting the country. All individual commentators are done by elite Papua New Guineans from diverse educational backgrounds.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Chief Secretary welcomes new Chief Magistrate

JACK August, the new Chief Magistrate took Office Friday 29, January 2010. The following day he paid a courtesy call on the Acting Chief Secretary to Government, Mr. Manasupe Zuernouc at the latter's Morauta House, Waigani.

The occasion of this first time meeting between the two chiefs was quiet interesting and fruitful. Both the acting Chief Secretary and the Chief Magistrate are senior officers of government who worked so hard, sometimes in trying times, who eventually won positions based in Port Moresby, simply and purely on merits. These two appointments, though separate and a long while in between, they are worthy considerations for the government to ponder. There is an option to consider when recruitments are conducted for higher level public servants.

The mutual testimonies and acknowledgement of their roots that trace back in time to their humble beginnings in the provinces is important in the current thinking about men and women of provincial and district based experience to take some leadership responsibilities in the corridors of power. Current Government focus is service delivery via Distinct Services Improvement Programme (DSIP).

Mr. Zuernouc is the substantive head and Secretary of the Department of Provincial and Local Government Affairs. This is the one government agency that has the constitutional mandate and responsibility to defend and advocate for vital rural development agenda, via the provincial and district based administrative entities. The Secretary has passion for rural and district developments. Mr. Zuernouc impressed upon the new Chief Magistrate the importance of embracing service delivery via the Papua New Guinea Magisterial Services.

Both chiefs spent time exploring options and opportunities presented by the government's long term vision, the Papua New Guinea Vision 2050. Many of the issues relating to the work of the PNG Magisterial Services are closely linked to the vision document. The Chief Magistrate said he will endeavour to work closely with the Office of the Chief Secretary to align his organization with the requirements of the PNGV2050.

One of the issues discussed by the Chief Magistrate and the Acting Chief Secretary is placement of magistrates in the districts. Pre-service and in-service training with the view to upgrading of skills and knowledge set for magistrates is a priority. A suggestion was made with regard to graduate magistrate training being run in some of the most remote parts of districts in PNG. This reform initiative would kick start and put in practice the need for recruiting and culturing young men and women to help authorities to securing the rural PNG.   The proposal was that the Chief Magistrate will explore possibilities of training and recruiting new and younger cohorts and offering special duties allowances by the state through the magisterial services.

Mr Zurenuoc impressed upon the Chief Magistrate to look after serving magistrates, including retirement benefits to be supervised by authorities such as the Salaries Remunerations Commission. Magistrates should consider and included in the category of constitutional office holders. He was also presented with a proposal to grow the organisation by instituting systems and process that are open and accountable.

Finally, a suggestion was put to the Chief Magistrate to begin thinking about, and planning for a properly designated headquarters within the precinct of the Supreme and National Courts at Waigani. This proposal is a good one; as this is an ideal time to have the third arm of government located prominently and conclusively within range of the headquarters of the Executive Government (Morauta House) and the Legislature within the National Parliament Building.

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