The National, Wednesday 21st December 2011
By JEFFREY ELAPA
PARLIAMENT failed to pass the equality and participation enabling bill for the second consecutive day yesterday.The vote was taken after the leader of government business Moses Maladina rescinded the voting on Monday when they could not get the numbers to pass it.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said several new amendments were made to the bill before the vote.Six of the 74 members voted against the bill. They were Lae MP Bart Philemon, Western Governor Dr Bob Danaya, Madang Governor James Gau, Usino Bundi MP Samson Kuli, Madang MP Buka Malai and Wewak MP Dr Moses Manwau.Nipa-Kutubu MP Philemon Embel left before the vote for the women’s bill was taken leaving the government with only 67 votes.Members of the Somare-led faction stayed out although four of their members including Dame Carol Kidu attended parliament by sitting in the middle bench.O’Neill called on the Somare camp to demonstrate maturity and responsibility by turning up in parliament to help pass important legislations.The house managed only 67 votes, much to the disappointment of women representatives watching from the public gallery.“Some members in government have indicated to me they would vote against the bill on conscience, and they did.This bill was introduced when Somare was in government. But they decided to sit on it for months, and our government moved quickly to bring it to the floor of parliament for a vote.”After failing to muster the required number, parliament rescinded the vote. They will attempt another vote today.Among the new clauses inserted were to remove the women’s electorate by 2027 – which meant that the women’s electorates would exist only in the 2012, 2017 and 2022 elections.O’Neill said the creation of seats specifically for women was to reflect the difficulties faced by the women in gaining seats in parliament.However, he said the government was working to address the underlying issues and by 2027, women’s roles would have changed as they could be able to contest seats on an equal footing with men without any difficulty.