Firstly, let me take this opportunity to thank you for joining me and our ministers here today for this Press Conference. This Press Conference is called in relation to the allegations raised in Parliament recently by Members in relation to the Manu Manu land transactions.
These are serious allegations of impropriety that need to be investigated, as I have committed, and then to be reported back to Parliament through the National Executive Council.
This morning the National Executive Council met and acknowledged that there must be principles of accountability and transparency in transactions that agencies of Government do on behalf of the State.
It is important that this is put to question, and we need to take firm action to deal with this matter. It is also important to note, as I have indicated in Parliament, there must be a commission of inquiry.
There is on-going action now before the Supreme Court of our country, that is the Western Provincial Government and Posman Kua Lawyers against the Government and NEC, and myself as Chair of NEC, questioning the legality of commissions of inquiry.
A five-man Supreme Court bench is set for the hearing of that case and a decision is pending. The question is the legality of Commissions of Inquiry.
That is why NEC has decided, that there we will have an inquiry, that is administrative in nature, and principles of accountability, transparency, and all the other investigative requirements, will be still conducted by a leading legal professional.
NEC Today appointed Mr John Griffin, Queen’s Council of the Queensland Bar, to inquiry and report on the five land transactions.
Mr Griffin is a leading lawyer, well experienced, highly qualified and he is well versed with the laws of the country, he is Queens Council, and a member of the Queensland bar.
This appointment will enable, and let me put it very clearly here, the ongoing investigations that are now before the police fraud squad, the Ombudsman Commission, and the Department of Personal Management in respect of the Staff and the Senior Public Servants that have been implicated in this matter, to continue.
This Inquiry will look into the role of relevant Ministers, the role of relevant Departmental Heads and their officers. This is particularly the Secretaries of Departments, the heads of various State Owned Enterprises, and it will look at the role of management of many of these organisations, as well as the role of the Valuer General in terms of the valuations of the land that was been purchased.
The recommendations of this inquiry will be presented to cabinet within four weeks. That is to ensure that we report to Parliament on the findings of the inquiry.
We will continue to work closely with the other agencies of the Government in making sure that this particular matter, which that has been of public interest, must be treated in a fair and transparent manner. The inquiry, headed by John Griffin QC, with the assistance of other professionals who will be appointed by him in due course, and that inquiry will now start from tomorrow.
I want to ensure the nation that this particular matter will be tabled in Parliament, as it was raised in Parliament during question time, and it is only fair that we do so.
I appeal to all citizens and all parties, that we must have respect for the rule of law, and the due process that needs to take place in our system of government, and in the governance of our country.
It is important to note, that those who have been the subject of allegations are innocent until proven guilty.
The system of government, institutions and agencies of our law enforcement bodies are already making their own inquiries and their own investigations.
So let the process take its due course.
We will deal with the matter as the report of the inquiry is presented to the National Executive Council and to Parliament.
I will certainly be looking forward to presenting to the public the report in the coming session of Parliament, which begins on March 28, Tuesday at 2pm.