The National, Tuesday 28th August, 2012
PARLIAMENT Speaker Theodore Zurenuoc has told members of parliament to understand the principle of separation of powers and to consider the social, political, financial and economic ramifications of legislations when passed.Over the last 37 years, the legislature had seemingly “succumbed to the dictate of the executive”, he said in Port Moresby last Thursday.“Indeed, on numerous occasions, the executive used its numerical strength to gag debates or pass legislation or law.“Often, the executive passed legislation with far-reaching social, political, financial and economic ramifications without the scrutiny and the sanction of the relevant parliamentary committees,” Zurenuoc said.
Speaking to new parliamentarians, he said such a situation was allowed to exist because the committee system was increasingly ineffective and dysfunctional.
“Consequently, the legislature was rendered subservient to the executive and, in fact, used as a rubber stamp.”
There were a total of 37 parliamentary committees but most of them only existed in name and were ineffective.
However, their members continued to receive allowances although they did not attend meetings.
“My immediate task is to introduce changes that will revitalise the committee system and, in so doing, restore public confidence in our parliament,” Zurenouc said.
He said one of his objectives was to see parliamentary committees actively promote participatory democracy by widely canvassing views of the grassroots on any proposed constitutional amendments.
“Naturally, I will expect the committees to travel the length and breadth of PNG holding public meetings and interviews while soliciting the majority support.”
He said resourcing and financing parliamentary committees were factors that needed to be addressed immediately “if the committees were to carry out their work effectively”.