Basil says Opposition was misled

National, Normal

THE Opposition was ‘misled’ into agreeing with the Government when they block voted 83-0 to amend section 27(4) of the Constitution to remove the powers of the Ombudsman Commission on last Tuesday.
Bulolo MP Sam Basil said: “Before Esa’ala MP Moses Maladina presented the Bill, he told Parliament that the bill was supported by the OC, which led to all members of the Opposition and the backbenchers supporting the bill.
“The misunderstanding was compounded by Speaker Jeffery Nape’s arrogance in denying proper debate (on the bill).
“This worsened for both the backbenchers and the Opposition to fully understand the implications of the bill.
“Parliament lawyers are no longer effective in informing MPs regarding the implications of bills on the notice papers,” he said.
“I can confirm that not all MPs understand the bills put before them and backbenchers most of the time just pass bills because they are in Government.
“But the Opposition will try our best to understand the implications of bills put before us with
limited resources or no help at all from Parliament’s legal service,” the member said.
Mr Basil is now calling for a stop to amendments to the Ombudsman Commission bill until after all implicated MPs, with their cases pending before the courts and the Ombudsman are cleared.
Like the practice in India’s parliament, he said civil societies and non-governmental organisations could help through the media to publish the implications of bills put before Parliament for the public to scrutinise.
“If given a proper presentation of the implications, I believe my colleagues in the Opposition and I may not vote for the final reading and I urge the backbenchers to do the same,” he said.
“With the amendments, the OC will be powerless to prevent payments from public funds which it deems unnecessary and political, and gives birth to a parliamentary ombudsman committee that will have
inquiring powers on its own, similar to the Public Accounts Committee.”