The InquIry Into the drownIng of More than 100 Papua New Guineans—mainly students—in
a ferry disaster on February 2 is set to drive big changes in PNG’s passenger shipping industry.
This has been dominated for decades by brothers Peter and Hamish Sharp. It was Peter Sharp’s
Rabaul Queen which sank between Kimbe and Lae, while Hamish was for years the controversial
chairman of the National Maritime Safety Authority until being replaced last year by Institute
of National Research director, Thomas Webster. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill swiftly deployed
Kina 8 million for the families of the victims and the 246 survivors.This was PNG’s worst ever sea disaster, which came just three months after the nation’s worst air disaster since World War II, in which 28 died. O’Neill has invited Australia’s Canberra-based National Maritime Safety Authority to investigate the disaster and to consider whether the country’s laws and safety standards are adequate.
He said: “Those that are found to be negligent in this disaster will face the law. We can’t engage our own people, mainly because they will be subjected to the investigation too.”He has also appointed Warwick Andrew, now an acting judge in New South Wales, to return to PNG where he worked as a judge for decades, to head the formal inquiry.
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