PM: Govt camp intact

The National, Monday July 18th, 2016

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday declared that he had the numbers to remain in the job as he left for camp in Alotau with 78 other MPs – an overwhelming majority in the 111-seat Parliament.
“We are already in Government,” O’Neill said.
“You can talk about numbers with the Opposition.
“We displayed our numbers (in Parliament) last Friday and we’ll display it again this week.”
O’Neill said the Alotau Government caucus meeting would not only discuss the no-confidence vote against O’Neill.
“This gives us the opportunity to revisit our Alotau Accord, revisit some of the programmes we have done for the Government and plan for the next 12 months,” O’Neill said. “That’s why we are going to meet again.
“Since the formation of Government (in 2012), we haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and discuss our programmes with our coalition partners and our members.”
O’Neill said the last headcount before boarding was 81 MPs and “it could be up to 91”.
“We’ve got some of our members who are still in their electorates, some of them have gone back to their provinces because of urgent commitments, but when they join us it will be close to 90.
Meanwhile, Minister for Finance and Leader of Government Business James Marape said there were 91 MPs in the Government.
He said Government numbers were strong with members meeting in unity from the People’s National Congress (PNC), National Alliance (NA), United Resources Party (URP), People’s Progress Party (PPP), New Generation Party and a number of independents.
“I assure all our investors, business community and citizens that our Government numbers stand with PNC at 59, National Alliance at 14, URP at 8 and a number from PPP, NGP, SDP, PDM and other independents,” Marape said.
“Contrast that with the 17 members who were with the Opposition in Parliament on Friday.”
“While it is their democratic right to exercise section 145 (of the Constitution), the unstable image of the country being portrayed continues to derail the work and development and investment in this country.
“I ask all political party leaders to come to the Parliament with your numbers and to stop ringing my members offering inducements like money and ministries.
“In this term of parliament, our prime minister and and government has been facing many battles sponsored by politicians and we know who they are.
“The difference between the two sides is that in Government we are all behind one person as prime minister, whereas in the Opposition you have seven people all with their knives out ready to back-stab each other.”
Marape welcomed the move by Micah and fellow PPP MPs moving to the Opposition, saying Micah’s demand while in Government were often unrealistic.  This included the demand to be appointed as deputy prime minister.