People’s Action Party

In the early 1980s the ex-Commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Edward (Ted) Diro formed the Papuan-based PNG Independent Group. This group joined the National Party in 1982 but defected in December 1986 to form the People’s Action Party (PAP) to participate in the 1987 election as a party with strong Papuan regional appeal. The 1987 election platform included improvement in the conditions of the army, free education, law and order and a promise to fight corruption. Diro was a Minister in the Wingti cabinets formed in 1985 and 1987. In 1988 Diro was charged with perjury arising from his appearance at an enquiry into corruption in the forestry industry. The charges were dismissed but, when Wingti refused to reinstate him as a Minister, Diro used his PAP numbers to bring down the Wingti Government and returned to the ministry with the PAP supporting a PANGU coalition. In 1989 the PAP, with 16 members, was the third largest party in the Government. In the first session of the House of Assembly after the 1992 election, the PANGU-PAP alliance lost to Wingti’s People’s Democratic Movement-People’s Progress Party alliance 55:54 on the casting vote of the Speaker. In May 1993 a major PAP faction led by the Speaker Bill Skate broke with the PAP to form the People’s National Congress. In October 1993 the PAP had four parliamentary members.

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