The National, Tuesday 3rd January 2012
THE government has again been condemned for setting the maximum age of the prime minister at 72.
Western Governor Bob Danaya said the government’s bulldozing of the bill on the age limit left a lot to be desired.
His comments follow those by New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan in parliament last month when the bill was debated.
Sir Julius, although aligned to the government of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, made a scathing attack on the motion before it was passed.
Danaya said there should have been prior consultation between the executive government and parliament before such important issues were forwarded for debate.
“There is no need to be so secretive and bulldoze such important piece of legislation that would affect any MP,” he said.
“This particular bill caught me and other governors by surprise. It should not be allowed to happen.
“There was no need to press the panic button.”
The new law rules out people such as Sir Michael Somare, who the Supreme Court had reinstated as PM on Dec 12, from holding the position.
Danaya said there was already a provision in the Constitution which dealt with the age limit of the PM.
“In fact, to put an
age limit on the PM is undemocratic and against the rights of individuals as leaders.
“Let the people decide who will be their leader at the polls – but not through legislation. This is the wrong approach,” he said.
He said it was up to the people to decide whether they wanted a 76-year-old or a 35-year-old to lead them.
He said parliament should not discriminate against senior citizens and younger leaders.
Danaya said the time limit for any member to be absent should not be restricted to three months as there was a provision in the Constitution that dealt with this matter.
“I wish to make it absolutely clear to all members of parliament to respect and uphold
the Constitution at all times.
“No leader must manipulate the Constitution for his vested interest now and in the future,” he said.
He pointed out that the effort made by pioneer leaders in putting together a Constitution must be applauded and acknowledged.