By Paul Barker of INA as posted on Sharp Talk

P_BarkerHow much detailed consideration has been given to this extension of the immune period from Votes of No Confidence to 30 months…. It’s all marketed on the basis that increased political stability is a good thing for PNG. Instability can cause problems, but remember than Italy has its best years of economic growth when its governments were being tossed out incessantly, and its worst economic period during the Govt of Berlusconi (who owned the Italian media, controlled the Government and silenced the judiciary…often by changing the laws whenever he was charged, notably to exempt himself from prosecution as present). During the 2011-2012 political-Constitutional crisis it was strongly argued that there were a range of Constitutional issues which needed to be considered and perhaps revised to avoid the prospects of such confrontations again.

In 2011 the majority of MPs decided to defy the apparent interpretation of the Constitution over allowable Votes of No Confidence, to effectively argue that the majority could do as they pleased as they appointed PMs, they could also remove them and appoint new ones. Now, wearing different shoes, the current political leadership wants to restrict the capacity of MPs to vote out governments. There is a strong case in favour of MPs having the right to remove a government if its found to be severely defective (incompetent, corrupt etc), and not to unduly restrict the hand of the majority of MPs, by allowing extended periods of a minority government. As one former Minister observed, there’s nothing wrong with Votes of No Confidence, just the requirement for one week’s notice, which allows those with access to money and largesse to strongly influence the vote!

The argument still stands, as it did mid-2012, that wider potential Constitutional changes should be subject to a process of wider public consultation, led by a Constitutional consultative committee, perhaps the CLRC or a Parliamentary committee, which canvasses wider public (including various professional as well as broad public) views, before going to Parliament for 3 Readings… The process now, just seems rather rushed, avoiding wider public discourse of pros or cons or options, and driven by the expediency of the team in power (ostensibly for some stated higher motive), rather than to address underling public needs and national interest.

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