Carol, Lady Kidu was the only female Member of Parliament in the 2002-2007 and 2007-2012 national Parliaments, and served as Minister for Community Development under Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare from 2002 until 2 August 2011, and as Opposition Leader from 15 February 2012 until her retirement from politics in July 2012. She was the leader of the Melanesian Alliance Party until her retirement.
Born in Shorncliffe, Queensland, Australia, she relocated to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea after marrying Buri Kidu, who was knighted in 1980 upon his appointment as the first indigenous Chief Justice of Papua New Guinea. Lady Kidu became a teacher and wrote school textbooks. She was widowed in 1994 after her husband died of a heart attack.
Lady Kidu entered politics in 1997, standing as an independent candidate in the parliamentary elections, and was elected Member of Parliament for the Port Moresby South constituency. She was re-elected in 2002 and 2007. In 2005, she was reportedly considered for the position of Deputy Prime Minister, but stated that she would not be interested in it.
In August 2011, the government of Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal (standing in for Somare while the latter was hospitalised for a serious heart condition) was brought down by a parliamentary motion, and Dame Carol lost office.
In January 2012, Dame Carol, a long-serving minister in the Somare government, distanced herself from those involved in attempts to overthrow current Prime Minister Peter O'Neill’s government but stated that Somare’s removal from power in August 2011 was illegal. At the same time, she announced her intention to sit as the opposition leader in parliament, in order to hold the Peter O’Neill-led government to account.
Dame Carol proposed forming a one-woman opposition and, in the absence of other contenders, to be recognised as opposition leader. Somare's party refused to take up opposition seats so as not to concede the legitimacy of the Peter O’Neill government.
On 15 February, Speaker Jeffrey Nape recognised her as leader of the Opposition, of which she was the only sitting member. She is the first woman to occupy that position. She stated she would use her remaining time in Parliament to consolidate the role of the Opposition for the future, hoping to obtain parliamentary staff for the Opposition, and a change in parliamentary procedures to strengthen it.
Dame Carol has been outspoken in her criticism of the controversial Judicial Conduct Law, rushed through by the O'Neill Government and Speaker Jeffrey Nape, which empowers the government to suspend judges. Questioning the judgment of the Speaker, Dame Carol has also called for a legislative reform that would require that the speaker be non-partisan and cannot be a serving MP. The Speaker accused her of contempt [clarification needed] and targeted her for investigation.
Dame Carol chose not to re-contest her seat of Moresby-South in the 2012 National Elections and retired from politics at the end of her third term in July 2012. She is also a member of the The High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and sits on the board of the Pacific Institute of Public Policy and the Nationwide Microbank.
An outspoken critic of development of land on Port Moresby that would legally evict squatter settlers for a five star resort, she continuously fought for humane rehoming of the residents and sued documentary filmmakers for their misrepresentation of her actions.
Awards and Commendations
Carol Kidu was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in January 2005. In February 2009, she was made a knight of the Légion d'honneur by France, for "her dedication to helping women, young girls, children, the physically and mentally impaired and her commitment to fighting discrimination".
She was the first citizen of Papua New Guinea ever to receive this award. She accepted the award on behalf of the people of Papua New Guinea. In 2007, the magazine Islands Business named her "Pacific Person of the Year", in recognition of her efforts towards poverty alleviation, against domestic violence and child abuse, against HIV and AIDS and in favour of women's empowerment.
Dame Carol Kidu received the PNG International Woman of Courage Award from the Secretary of State of the United States of America in 2007. She has received honorary doctorates from Vudal University (Madang, PNG), University of Queensland (Australia) and the University of Papua New Guinea in recognition of her services to the people of Papua New Guinea.
- "Lady Carol Kidu in conversation". ABC Queensland. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 4 February 2005.
- "PNG senators 'thrilled' by Kompaon Paralympics silver". Radio Australia. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 18 September 2008.
- Forbes, Mark (15 July 2002). "How a Brisbane girl became PNG's first white female MP". The Age.
- Pareti, Samisoni. "A FIGHTER WITH A DIFFERENCE: Dame Carol Kidu: Our 2007 Person of the Year". Islands Business.
- "Dame Carol Kidu rules out PNG deputy prime ministership". Radio New Zealand International. 3 June 2005.
- "O'Neill is PM", The National, 3 August 2011
- Cabinet of Papua New Guinea, CIA Factbook, 18 August 2011; accessed 10 August 2014.
- Jo Chandler. "Dame steps up as one-woman PNG opposition". Space on the Mat.
- Radio New Zealand International (30 January 2012). "PNG: Dame Carol Kidu wants to lead opposition". Radio New Zealand International.
- Jo Chandler (29 January 2012). "Dame steps up as one-woman PNG opposition". Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Qld-born woman new PNG opposition leader", AAP, 15 February 2012; accessed 10 August 2014.
- Jo Chandler (13 April 2012). "PNG Speaker accuses leading MP of contempt". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Radio New Zealand International (17 April 2012). "PNG government amendment to Judicial Conduct Act". Radio New Zealand International.
- London Gazette, 31 December 2004, P. N33
- Abaijah, Liama (13 February 2009). "French honour for Dame Carol". The National.
- "Décoration de Dame Carol Kidu" (in French). French embassy to Papua New Guinea. 12 February 2009.
- "Dame Carol Kidu's speech upon receiving the Légion d'honneur" (PDF). French embassy to Papua New Guinea.