Statistical indicators suggest the Peter O’Neill government in Papua New Guinea has used its power of incumbency to “cook the books” in its favour, claims a new analysis by the independent website PNG Economics. Comparing the 2017 electoral roll with population estimates by electorate based on the 2011 census, the Electoral Commission has created nearly 300,000 “ghost voters” in O’Neill’s People’s Congress Party (PNC) controlled electorates. “This is 5682 ‘ghost voters’ for every PNC sitting member. This is over 10 times the number of ‘ghost voters’ for non-PNC sitting members. PNC members are also being declared elected based on ‘mathematical impossibilities’,” the website said. PNG Economics declares on its website that it provides “timely, accurate, frank and fearless advice”.
Key researcher of the website is Paul Flanagan who has a longstanding interest in public policy issues in Australia, PNG and the Pacifjc region. His 35-year public service career was evenly shared between Treasury/Finance and AusAID and he is director of Indo-Pacific Public Policy and Economics, a leading commentator on economic developments in PNG, and is a frequent contributor to the Devpolicy Blog.
“Papua New Guinea’s vibrant democracy, including its extraordinary diversity and combination of individual choice and clan loyalties, may still be able to overcome such electoral bias in favour of O’Neill,” said the economic analysis.
“This may depend on the Biblical and moral choices about to be made by new Independent members. May they choose wisely and morally, not just chasing the money politics of the PNC and its likely manipulation of the election, when they decide on PNG’s new government.
PNC’s army of ‘ghost voters’.”