In voicing his support, he has made the point that independence and transparency must be the cornerstone of the legislation and implementation moving forward.
“The ICAC legislation has been in development for several years, having first been proposed by PNC in 1997,” Mr. O’Neill said.
“Despite many bureaucratic delays, it now is at a point whereby Parliament can debate and then vote clear legislation into law.
“But there must not be compromise on the basic tenants of independence of the ICAC that is above reproach.
“PNG ICAC should not be undermined by nepotism or tribalism, it must be truly independent, and its findings and decisions made public without fear or favour.
“We have seen on too many occasions in our judiciary and Ombudsman Commission that even some of our learned people have compromised and made decisions because of political pressure.
“This compromise of legal process has to end, and our country given certainty that ICAC is not a paper tiger, but is truly an independent constitutional body.
“It must have powers to investigate, to arrest and to prosecute cases of corruption in both the public and private sector.
“The process for the Appointments Committee must be much more clearly articulated so that key appointments, including that of the Commissioner are bipartisan and independent.
“PNC proposes that the Appointments Committee should be made up of a representative of the Government, a representative of the Opposition, the Chief Justice and the Head of Council of Churches.
Mr. O’Neill said as part of the global community of independent nations, Papua New Guinea must engage with our global partners and bring in international legal experts.
“Many other jurisdictions have created their own Independent Commissions Against Corruption, and there have been many lessons learned that we must draw from.
“We must appoint global experts to oversee the operation and objectivity of ICAC that are not only above being compromised, but have the confidence of the public that there are no perceptions that they could be compromised.
“There is strong bipartisan support for the passage of this legislation, and this will remain intact so long as the government can commit to the required levels of independent oversight.
“A true ICAC will be attuned to being independent of political influence, and understand the underlying dynamics and politics of individuals who are opposed to anti-corruption measures.”
O’Neill said the key elements of the proposed ICAC must not be diluted and ICAC powers recognised and enforceable.
“There must be clear articulation of the functions and powers of the Commission and the requirement for co-operation from other government agencies and bodies.
“The process for the referral of matters must be clear and not be able to be summarily dismissed by vested interests in agencies of government or political interference.
“There must be a clear process for registering complaints so that they are attended to and matters are not shelved for political reasons, as we have seen all too often in other agencies in the past.
“There must also be measures in place that can identify and ensure the full disclosure of any conflicts of interest by any person in a position of authority, or who is providing evidence or information to the ICAC.
“Persons who are subject to investigation must further have the right to competent legal representation at hearings and access to a full disclosure of all relevant documentation.
“Finally, the Papua New Guinea ICAC must be properly and fully funded, with access to modern technologies that will enable its work can be properly undertaken without fear of compromise.
“After more than two decades, our country is close to enshrining in law a truly Independent Commission Against Corruption.
“All Members of Parliament must be involved in the scrutiny of the legislation and any amendments that are required to achieve the ICAC objectives that we have declared to serve our country for generations to come.”