Peter O'Neill

Peter Charles Paire O'Neill, CMG is the current Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.

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Peter Charles Paire O'Neill, CMG (born 13 February 1965) is the current Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.[2][3] He is the leader of the People's National Congress and represents the constituency of Ialibu-Pangia. He was sworn in on 4 August 2012 as the ninth Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.


O'Neill's father, Brian O'Neill, was an Australian-born magistrate of partial Irish descent.[4] His mother, Awambo Yari, a Papua New Guinean, came from the Southern Highlands. His father moved to Papua New Guinea in 1949 as an Australian government field officer, known in Tok Pisin as a kiap, later serving as a magistrate in Goroka until his death in 1982.[2][5]

O'Neill was educated at the Pangia Primary School, Ialibu High School and Goroka High School. After leaving school he was educated at the University of Papua New Guinea, graduating with a Bachelor of Accountancy and Commerce in 1986.[2][6]

O'Neill was a businessman before entering politics.[6] As of 2011[update] he lives in Port Moresby with his partner and has five children; two daughters (Loris and Joanne O'Neill) and three sons (Travis, Brian and Patrick O'Neill). Both Travis and Patrick O'Neill are resident in Papua New Guinea, whereas Brian is attending boarding school in Australia. Loris and Joanne are both attending university in Queensland, Australia.


O'Neill was elected to the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea in 2002 and became a minister in the same year.[6]

He became the leader of Papua New Guinea's opposition in 2004. He joined the government of Prime Minister Michael Somare in 2007, serving as treasurer.[2]

During Somare's absence due to illness he served as works minister under acting prime minister Sam Abal. In August 2011 he joined with opposition MPs to topple Abal. O'Neill was elected as the acting Prime Minister in a parliamentary vote on 2 August 2011 and was sworn in later in the day by the Governor-General.[7][8]

One of his first measures as Prime Minister in August, alongside his Public Enterprises Minister Sir Mekere Morauta, was to dismiss Glen Blake, the managing director of the Independence Public Business Corporation, a state-owned enterprise. The government accused Blake of "misconduct in office", namely an illegal and ill-advised use of funds. Morauta said the IPBC had been operating under a "thick veil of secrecy", and that the O'Neill government wanted to "restore open honest governance to the operations of IPBC".[9]

Also in August, the O'Neill announced the establishing of a new public holiday, Repentance Day, set on 26 August. The announcement was made just eleven days before that date, and with minimal information. The public holiday was established at the request of a "group of churches", which had approached Abal with the idea shortly before he lost office.[10]

O'Neill's appointment as Prime Minister was brought in to doubt after a finding of the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea on 12 December 2011 that the removal of Michael Somare from office in August 2011 was unlawful. Attempts by O'Neill to attend at the Governor-General's residence, for the purposes of having his role as the legitimate Prime Minister confirmed, were met with a block by armed police officers. Parliamentary Speaker Jeffrey Nape is reported to have stated that Somare is an "ordinary person" and not a member of parliament, a situation which would make O'Neill the legitimate Prime Minister.[11]

In February 2012, O'Neill dismissed coalition partner Don Polye as Finance Minister.[12]


  1. Essoyan, Susan (2011-11-13). "First Lady shows off Hawaii's beauty and food at Kualoa lunch". Honolulu Star Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
  2. Callick, Rowan (3 August 2011). "PNG vote weakens link to Michael Somare era". The Australian. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  3. Michael Somare's struggle to regain PNG leadership not over, says daughter
  4. "Muddy succession: An ousting of the grand chief". The Economist. 6 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-04.
  5. "Service delivery on way". Highlands Post. 15 February 2006. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  6. "Bio-Data - Minister O'Neill". Papua New Guinea Department of Treasury. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  7. Blackwell, Eoin (2 August 2011). "PNG chooses new prime minister". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  8. Nicholas, Isaac (3 August 2011). "O'Neill is PM". The National (Port Moresby). Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  9. "PM cracks whip", The National, 25 August 2011
  10. "Day of Repentance puzzles Papua New Guinea", Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 26 August 2011
  11. [1], Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 13 December 2011