The National – Wednesday, December 15, 2010
IT is a shame the speaker does not know the meaning of impartial.
As a result, Jeffery Nape has turned the parliament into a circus.
I have lost count the number of times he gagged the opposition from raising significant issues for debates.
He also put the house and chair into disrepute by refusing to act as the governor-general because he felt it was “not mandatory but optional”.
This phrase was cited in the 37-page ruling by the Supreme Court when nullifying the election of Sir Paulias Matane as governor-general.
What made the speaker think that it is up to him to decide when to assume the role of acting governor-general?
To claim it was “not mandatory but optional” was a blatant disregard and breach of the constitution.
What sort of legal advice did the speaker get?
The so-called legal advisers who advised Nape to continue as speaker and the prime minister to appoint a minister to act as governor-general should be sacked for incompetence.
The constitution clearly sets out the process in appointing the acting governor-general.
In unambiguous terms, section 95 states clearly when the speaker gets to assume the role of governor-general.
If the speaker is not available, then the chief justice can act as the governor-general provided he is not a non-citizen.
If the chief justice is not available, or is not qualified for the reason of him being a non-citizen, then a minister, upon advice from the NEC, can be the acting governor-general.
That is the process which is explicit in its entirety.
It does not require any inferences to be drawn to pick out the literal meaning of section 95 of the constitution.
One wonders how Nape wrote to the prime minister stating that “section 95 (2) of the constitution is not mandatory but optional” and he stated that “having received this advice, I wish to inform you to appoint a minister to act as governor-general while I take on my responsibility as the speaker of the parliament to conduct parliament business”.
This letter is clearly in defiance of the prescribed mandatory and constitutional role of the speaker to act as governor-general in the event that there is a vacancy in the governor-general’s office.
The latest of another of those breaches of the constitution by the speaker occurred last week when the governor-general, who was on leave in his village, was said to have been still on duty when Sir Arnold Amet was sworn in as the new justice minister.
Can’t we learn from past mistakes?
Section 95 (2)(c)(i) states that the speaker is to act as governor-general if the incumbent is on leave.
Here, we have Sir Paulias Matane conducting normal business while on leave in East New Britain.
There is something wrong somewhere.
I call on the speaker to resign because he has brought disrepute to the office of the governor-general, the speaker’s office and parliament.