Court hears submissions on alternate PM issue

The Supreme Court has reserved its ruling on whether the General Secretary of the Peoples’ National Congress party, Edward Mike Jondi, can bring an application under section 18(1) of the Constitution for the court’s consideration.

Jondi’s lawyer, Emmanuel Asigau of Pacific Legal Group, today made submissions before a three-man Supreme Court bench on the issue of standing, or whether his client has the right to move such an application.

Justices Les Gavara-Nanu, Allan David and Joseph Yagi heard submissions this afternoon and reserved their ruling to a later date.

Jondi filed the application in March asking the Court to interpret section 142 (Prime Minister) section 143 (Acting Prime Minister), and 145 (Motions of no confidence) of the Constitution.

It seeks interpretation of those provisions of the constitution on the election of the Prime Minister and who can be nominated or named as the alternative Prime Minister in the event a motion of no-confidence is moved against a Prime Minister.

Asigau submitted his client has sufficient interest in the issue, being the General Secretary of the PNC Party, and is not a mere busy body.

He also said the application filed by his client raises significant constitutional issues which the court must look into, thus he has standing to pursue the case further to an actual hearing.

If the Supreme Court rules that PNC’s General Secretary has standing or right to bring such application, it must decide on the proposal that was brought to the court to deliberate on. 

That proposition is that the person who is next nominated to be the alternate prime Minister in a motion of no-confidence must be a member from the political party with the highest number of members. This is the substantive issue.

It is a request for the court to deliberate on and declare under sections 142, 143 and 145 of the constitution, that a person nominated as the alternate Prime Minister on a vote of no-confidence motion must be a member of the party with the highest number of members in a parliamentary term.

Asigau added that the application was filed in March and since then, there have been four attempts by the Opposition to move a vote of no-confidence motion against PM O’Neill.  

(Loop PNG file picture of the last Vote of No Confidence motion in parliament.)

Sally Pokiton