By DANIEL KORIMBAO
PARLIAMENT meets on Tuesday for the final session of 2010 before the house rises for the year.
Because it is the November session, the focus of this sitting should be the 2011 budget.
But there is uncertainty on most minds because the murmur is for a vote of no-confidence in the prime minister to be introduced by the opposition.
Realistically, this is the only chance the opposition has of getting a no-confidence motion through to be voted on. The opening or window of opportunity provided by law closes in the new year as the Constitution bars any such vote 18 months before a writ is issued for the next general elections.
Speaker Jeffery Nape holds the key to how events will play out on Tuesday, and that is why all roads have led to Cairns, Australia, in recent days, where he has been holidaying.
Frustrated by the government’s failure to provide funds it has promised for urgent maintenance work in parliament, Nape has holed up in Cairns for the last two months or so, and word is that the opposition and government factions have been courting him to allow the notice now before him to go through for a vote, ahead of the budget.
Sources said the prime minister paid Nape a visit last week and had lunch with him. That was followed by a visit from Treasurer and People’s National Congress party leader Peter O’Neill.
Then last week, Enga governor and People’s Party leader Peter Ipatas, United Resources Party founder and Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru, and Rural Development Party leader Moses Maladina, and URP leader William Duma visited Nape for separate meetings.
On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye flew to Cairns for a meeting with Nape before flying back to Port Moresby.
Yesterday, Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare got on the Qantas flight from Port Moresby to Cairns, hoping to meet with Nape.
Somare told The National he was seeking consultation with Nape on his interpretation of the integrity law, or what’s left of it, after the Supreme Court has struck down some of its provisions as unconstitutional.
He is seeking his views on how members and parties should vote on important bills like the budget and a vote of no-confidence.
“I have my legal advice on this, and I believe the speaker’s would not be much different.
“That is why I am meeting him to discuss these, because it is important we interpret the laws correctly and set the right precedent.
“The laws may still require MPs to vote on important bills through party resolutions, and we need to set the ground rules for this in this sitting, given what has happened,” Somare said.
Under the integrity law, MPs must show their vote through a party resolution when voting on the budget, or a vote for the prime minister, including a vote of no-confidence. It was not very clear if this law had been struck down by the court, or was still intact, or was provided for in the standing orders of parliament.
As Somare got off the Qantas plane at the Cairns airport, PNG Party leader Belden Namah and Bulolo MP Sam Basil were checking in to catch the Air Niugini flight back to Port Moresby after meeting the speaker.
Namah declined to give details of his meeting with Nape.