Opposition challenges bills’ passage

National, Normal

The National – Wednesday, December 15, 2010

THE passing of the controversial Environment Amendment Act 2000 and three other bills by parliament is being challenged with court submissions being prepared if it was constitutional with the argument that Speaker Jeffery Nape had presided  while in his capacity as acting governor-general.
These included the amendment to sections 69(A), which restricts the landowners or any party to take the matter to court or tribunal and 69(B), which states that any permit given or authorised by the director or the secretary of Environment and Conversation Department is final and that any activity did not constitute to any civil clause or action or offence.
The government, despite immense pressure from the landowners of the Ramu nickel mine, unanimously passed the bill in Parliament on May 29 and certified July 9, within a period of four weeks when the office of the head of state had been vacant as of May 26.
Last Friday, the Supreme Court, comprising five judges, ruled on the constitutionality of the conduct in the election of Sir Paulias Matane challenged by Morobe Governor Luther Wenge and ruled that the election of Sir Paulias was unconstitutional and that the parliament be recalled within 40 days to elect a new vice-regal.
It was also ruled that any decision in the appointment processes of Sir Paulias  from May to June was invalid and that the deputy speaker Francis Marus to be the acting speaker to recall parliament and conduct the appointment of a new governor-general while Nape  becomes the acting governor-general.
The opposition revealed during a media conference at parliament that they had engaged their lawyer to challenge the validity of the four bills that were passed then.
The opposition revealed two of the bills were forestry acts.
It is also believed that the leader of PNG Party Belden Namah had instructed his lawyer to specifically challenge the environmental bill.
Meanwhile, sources said any decision made and passed in parliament by Nape as speaker was invalid and, therefore, the appointment of the commissioner of police was also questioned.
But new Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Sir Arnold Amet said on Monday that all instruments and decisions made were valid.