PNG Government Has At Least Six Constitutional Amendments To Pass In Parliament

Needs total Opposition support because these amendments need absolute majority of 74 votes, which the Government does not have

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 11, 2017) – The Government has at least six constitutional amendments to pass in Parliament, including the controversial increase in nomination fee.

And it needs total Opposition support because these amendments need absolute majority of 74 votes, which the Government does not have.

Among the changes which need immediate Parliament attention when it meets on August 22 are two proposed changes to the Constitution to allow for next year’s provincial and local-level governments elections, to increase nomination and election petition fees and the first vote on the Organic Law on the Independent Commission Against Corruption Law.

The Organic Law on ICAC was last debated on November 3, 2015, but Prime Minister Peter O’Neill could not muster the required absolute majority to pass it.

Mr O’Neill said in a statement on Tuesday that the tenth Parliament was a fresh start, an opportunity to deliver legislation that would further advance our nation.

“If they ever want to be taken seriously, the Opposition will need to debate issues properly,” the PM said.

“The Government does not need their numbers for a simple majority, and they will all have to make a choice when it comes to issues requiring an absolute majority.

“One of the first pieces of legislation requiring an absolute majority will be ICAC legislation. It would be the height of hypocrisy if these opposition members were to oppose the ICAC legislation.”

Last October Mr O’Neill gave notice that he would present a proposed law to amend the Constitution to, among others, give effect to the National Goals and Directive Principles relating to political stability and the protecting the integrity of the Papua New Guinea nation-state; promote the active participation of citizens in the political process through strong and effective political parties; and improve greater transparency and accountability of political leaders and their political parties.

At the same time he also gave notice that he would present a proposed Law to repeal and replace the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates to provide for political stability and good governance as a subject matter of public interest and welfare; and also recognise the importance of political parties as important institutions of State in assisting to maintain and sustain the intrinsic values and principles of a constitutional democratic system of government.

Other constitutional changes which needed Opposition backing listed in the last Parliament notice paper of April are:

 Constitutional amendment law 2016 (Prime Minister): Second required opportunity for debate and second vote (from February1);

 Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local-level Governments (Amendment) law 2016 (Prime Minister): Second required opportunity for debate and second vote (from February 1);

 Organic Law on National and Local-level Government Elections (Amendment) law 2016 (Prime Minister): Second required opportunity for debate and second vote (from February 1); and

 Constitutional Amendment (Court Restructure) law 2015 (prime minister): second required opportunity for debate and second vote (from 31 march 2016).

Mr O’Neill said he was looking for a higher level of intelligent public debate in the tenth Parliament as important legislation are presented.

He made the comment as the agenda was being prepared for the August 22 sitting, and the Government prepares to deliver APEC Papua New Guinea 2018.

“While there are so many very capable Members in the Parliament, there is a small group who just want to play disruptive politics,” Mr O’Neill said.

“I am hearing disquiet from within the opposition that their various leaders have declared they will try to block all legislation.

“That level of immaturity is one of the reasons they are in Opposition and not in the Government, and is causing deep dissent in their number.”

The Prime Minister said as planning intensifies for APEC – Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation, he expects the Opposition to think of the nation ahead of self-interest.

“The ball is in the Opposition’s court if they want to be mature and responsible, or the disorganised group of loud-mouthed individuals we saw on the first day of Parliament,” he said in reference to last Wednesday’s sitting.

PNG Post-Courier
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