The National, Monday July 8th, 2013
By JEFFREY ELAPA
THE Opposition will seek to restrain parliament from debating and voting on the proposed changes to the laws governing motions of no-confidence and parliament sessions.
Opposition leader Belden Namah he will seek to get such an order from the Supreme Court to stop government from passing changes to sections 145 (motions of no confidence) and sections 124 of the Constitution (calling of and sitting days of parliament).
“We will ask the court to stay any further amendment to section 145 and the related amendment of section 124 until our Supreme Court Reference on the 30 months grace period extension is determined,” Namah said.
Parliament resumes tomorrow after a six-week break and the Bill is expected to be tabled in this session.
But the opposition is concerned that the Bill will never be allowed fair and thorough debate on the floor.
“We recommend the government withdraw the Bills and propose for a thorough review of the Constitution since we are approaching 40 years of independence and we further want the amendments to include :
- Strengthening of the constitutional amendment processes with inclusion of new requirement for National Referendum for Constitutional amendments;
- Introduction of second chamber of parliament; and
- A clear separation of powers between the legislature and executive arm of Government.”
The Opposition further called on the Ombudsman Commission to join in the constitutional reference and the MPs not to vote for the Bill.
The Opposition said it would facilitate a debate on the proposed amendments because it believed Parliament had lost its authority and compromised its independence with the executive arm of government.
“The Constitution is the supreme law of the nation and the independent state of Papua New Guinea is founded and established by the Constitution,” Namah said.
“Power and authority for the good government is created and provided for by the Constitution, including the power of law making. It is not an ordinary law but the very fundamental law that creates and establishes our very existence as an independent and united nation.
“Any amendment to a provision of the Constitution must therefore be made in significantly exceptional circumstances and that must be made for public good, to give effect to the national goals and directive principles,” he said.
Namah said Section 38 of the Constitution required the proposer of any amendment to the Constitution which sought to restrict a right or freedom, to specify the matter of public interest that such an amendment was intended to achieve.
“In this case, the amendments will not only restrict the right and freedom of the Parliament to step in and call on the executive government to account whenever warranted, but will, by the manipulative actions of the government, completely remove or make redundant the operation of the only check and balance mechanism that ensures democracy and accountability,” he said.
He said the Prime Minister had yet to specify publicly as well as in the proposed amendments, the public interest or national goal that the amendments to sections 145 and 124 sought to achieve, promote or enhance.
“It cannot be disputed that section 145 was put there for a very important purpose, and that is to act as a pressure valve to protect or relieve the people and our country from suffering at the whims of a hash or oppressive or corrupt or non-performing government,” he said.