Bill Skate

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The Honourable
Bill Skate
KCMG
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
In office
22 July 1997 – 14 July 1999
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Sir Julius Chan
Succeeded by Mekere Morauta
Personal details
Born William Jack Skate
(1953-09-26)26 September 1953
Papua New Guinea
Died 3 January 2006(2006-01-03) (aged 52)
Brisbane, Australia
Political party People's National Congress Party

Sir William Jack Skate KCMG (26 September 1953 – 3 January 2006) was a Papua New Guinea politician and statesman. He was the son of an Australian father and a native PNG mother. Though his career was turbulent and often marked by setbacks, he served in the highest posts in his country: Prime Minister, Speaker of the National Parliament, and acting Governor-General.

Skate became manager of the capital district commission in 1987. He was elected to Parliament in 1992 and served as Speaker from 1992 to 1994, supporting the government of Paias Wingti.

Skate served as governor of the National Capital District from 1995 to 1997. He was Prime Minister from 1997 to 1999 and resigned after 18 months, fearing that he would lose a challenge. In 2002, his political party the People's National Congress Party (PNC) became a coalition partner in the government of Michael Somare and Skate became Speaker of the National Parliament. He was appointed acting Governor-General in November 2003, a constitutional requirement when that office falls vacant. Sir Pato Kakeraya was scheduled to take up the office on 20 January 2004, but Skate continued to act in the office because of court challenges to Kakeraya's election. On 3 March 2004, Skate was suspended as acting governor-general because of allegations that he misappropriated funds during the 1990s. He then advised the Prime Minister to appoint a cabinet minister as acting governor-general. The following day, however, he was cleared of the financial charges in court, and he became acting governor-general again. In May 2004, his party left the coalition when he and other members refused to support a constitutional amendment supported by Somare which would have given the government more time to be immune to no confidence votes. As a result, the PNC became the largest opposition party. On 28 May 2004, Skate ceased to be Speaker when the parliament elected a pro-government candidate, Jeffrey Nape. The office of governor-general was still vacant at that stage, so Nape automatically succeeded Skate as acting governor-general.

Bill Skate was knighted in January 2005 for services to parliament, becoming Sir William Skate.

He died in hospital on 3 January 2006, in Brisbane, Australia, where he had been airlifted after suffering a stroke in late December 2005. He was buried in Port Moresby. He was the first Papua New Guinea Prime Minister to die.

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Preceded by
Sir Julius Chan
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
1997–1999
Succeeded by
Sir Mekere Morauta
Preceded by
Sir Silas Atopare
Governor-General of Papua New Guinea (acting)
2003–2004
Succeeded by
Jeffrey Nape (acting)
Preceded by
Sir Silas Atopare
Speaker of the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea
2002–2004
Succeeded by
Jeffrey Nape