Under the national Constitution, the Leadership Code requires that leaders in the country should not use their positions for personal gain and should avoid conflict between their personal interests and their public duties. They are expected to act with honesty and integrity at all times. Leaders covered by the code include parliamentarians, secretaries of departments, directors of statutory authorities, senior members of the defense force and police, senior diplomats, and the executive officers of political parties. Between the introduction of the Code in 1975 and 1990, a number of breaches of the Code were detected and the cases brought before the Ombudsman Commission. Those whom the Ombudsman found guilty were referred to a Leadership Tribunal. If found guilty by the Tribunal they were dismissed from office. However, breaches of the Leadership Code are often difficult to prove.
PNG parliamentarians were early conscious of the likelihood of corruption amongst leaders. In 1971 the House of Assembly passed the Parliamentary Integrity Bill, which was better known as the anti-corruption bill, to establish a committee to investigate complaints of improper practices by MHAs. The concern of parliamentarians over these matters abated as they developed business interests. In 1978 Prime Minister Somare’s attempt to legislate a more stringent code to prevent national leaders from having private business interests was opposed by both the opposition and his coalition partner (People’s Progress Party) and easily defeated.