RULING SOUGHT ON PNG "CONFIDENCE" BILL

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 1) – The Papua New Guinea parliament can entertain a second attempt to pass the law to extend the grace period of votes of no-confidence motions to three years "anytime it chooses".

Acting Speaker Jeffery Nape told Parliament this on Friday when confirming Opposition Leader Sir Mekere Morauta had filed originating summons asking the National Court to rule that the proposed law to alter Section 145 had lapsed and a copy of the declaration be served on Mr Nape as acting Speaker and the State, as well as any other necessary orders.

Sir Mekere on Friday took the court action to stop the proposed amendment, sponsored by the Government, because he says the amendment should not be re-introduced as it lapsed following the Government failing to muster the numbers to pass it during its third reading last Wednesday. 

Sir Mekere’s court action has placed the matter in "sub judice" — because it is now before the courts — it cannot be debated until the court makes a decision on it.

"The (sub judice) rule was never intended to interfere with the substantive and fundamental constitutional duties of the Parliament which is the power to make laws," Mr Nape told Parliament.

He said Parliament had rescinded the vote on the proposed law on the motion of no-confidence on Wednesday "in accordance with its procedures".

"The proposed law is on the notice paper. This Parliament will therefore call on it and proceed to vote on it anytime it chooses," Mr Nape said.

Parliament must protect and vigorously defend its power, privileges and integrity, he added. "If we do not, nobody will. Accordingly, I have decided that the sub judice rule will not apply to court action initiated by the Opposition Leader." Parliament will adjourn today at 10am when the Opposition is expected to respond to the 2004 Budget. 

December 1, 2003

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

 

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