PNG minister steps down after woman’s alleged assault in Bondi

Photo: Queensland Police Service

One of Papua New Guinea’s most senior ministers have stepped down from his post after being arrested for the alleged assault of a 31-year-old woman in Bondi.

Jimmy Maladina, who was the country’s Minister for Petroleum, was charged with domestic assault on Saturday after police were called to an Imperial Avenue home at 10am after reports of a domestic dispute. They found a woman with facial injuries, allegedly as a result of an altercation with the former minister. The woman is known to the 58-year-old.

Maladina was one of Prime Minister James Marape’s closest advisers and was in the middle of international negotiations over a $17 billion (US$11,45 billion) mega liquified natural gas project in PNG.

On Sunday evening he said he had told the Prime Minister he would step down while the matter was before the Australian courts because “perceptions and respect for process are crucial for good governance”.

“I will make the general point that violence perpetrated by either a man, or violence by a woman, cannot be tolerated,” he said in a statement. “We will all have our day in court and I look forward to the facts of the matter being presented.”

Maladina in a statement said he does not condone any forms of violence and requests privacy for all parties involved in the matter.

“I understand the gravity of the situation and the concerns it raises. As a public servant I hold myself to high standards of conduct, both personally and professionally.”

Prime Minister, James Marape through the PM’s Media head, Matrom John advised the media that “The Australian Authority will have to provide a brief to the PNG Department of Foreign Affairs before the Foreign Affairs Minister briefs the Prime Minister on this matter.”

Later the Prime Minister then announced the Petroleum Minister’s decision to step aside from his position while a complaint against him is being heard in court in Australia.

“I thank Minister Maladina for taking responsibility to uphold his name and the integrity of the public office he holds in a professional manner in respecting the judicial process to run its course.

“I had my discussion with the Minister, and as a responsible government that respects the rule of law, we uphold high standards. Minister Maladina stepping aside is appreciated,” said PM Marape.

The Prime Minister urged the public to refrain from spreading speculations as this matter is now before a competent prosecutorial process.

The cabinet will appoint a new Minister to act in the position.

Meanwhile, Governor of East Sepik Province Allan Bird has expressed his deep embarrassment at the arrest of Petroleum Minister Jimmy Maladina and expressed his sympathy for the victim.

He also applauded the swift response of the Australian police.

“Violence against women in PNG has reached pandemic proportions and our women and girls continue to live in fear.

“To his credit, Prime Minister Marape brought the Special and now the Permanent Committee on Gender Based Violence to deal with the alarming situation in our country.

“Maladina, a strong PANGU MP and Marape loyalist is charged with violence of a domestic nature in a foreign country. While Maladina is deemed innocent until proven otherwise, I call on PM Marape to decommission the minister pending the outcome of the court proceedings.

“Ministers represent all PNG citizens, as such, very high standards are expected of them. Those standards have been considerably lowered in the last few years.

“The PM professes to be a strong Christian – I call on him to demonstrate to the women and girls and all decent citizens of PNG that he will not condone such actions by his ministers.

“I also call on the Ombudsman Commission to look into this matter as too many ministers are bringing their positions into disrepute. The OC must act in this instance to prevent any further deterioration of leadership standards in PNG.”

Maladina’s past has been chequered by multiple legal issues, including claims of corruption and fraud in PNG.

He spent three years in Brisbane in the early 2000s after completing a masters of law at the University of Sydney. He had his passport confiscated in 2002 by the Federal Court during a dispute over insolvency proceedings for PNG’s compulsory superannuation scheme, the National Provident Fund, which he chaired. Maladina was granted conditional bail and will appear at Waverley Local Court on Thursday 11 July 2024.