The New Ireland Assembly voted out its open members during its meeting on Wednesday the 17th of March, citing numerous absences from assembly meetings.
It was claimed, both members were absent on Wednesday 9th September 2020, Wednesday 16th September 2020, Wednesday 23rd December 2020 and Wednesday 17th March 2021.
The decision to terminate them was based on the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local Level Governments, section 12, subsection 2(b), which says:
“If a member referred to… is absent, without leave of the Provincial Assembly, during three consecutive meetings of the Assembly, unless the Assembly waives this provision upon satisfactory reasons being given, the member shall cease to be a member of the Provincial Assembly.”
In a May 6th letter to the Inter-Government Relations Minister, Schnaubelt refuted their removal, saying Parliament was in session on September 9th and December 20th, while September 16th was PNG’s Independence Day and the nation was mourning the late Grand Chief’s passing on March 17th, 2021.
Inter-Government Relations Minister, Pila Niningi, in a letter dated June 23rd to the New Ireland Governor, highlighted that the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local Level Governments, section 15, subsection 3, states:
“The number of meetings of a Provincial Assembly shall be not less than four in each calendar year and shall not be held at the same time as the meetings of the National Parliament.”
Niningi said: “The above provisions are succinct in that provincial assemblies are legally barred from conducting meetings during the same time as the National Parliament is having its sitting.”
He stated that if it is proven that the assembly meetings were held during the same time as Parliament’s sittings, the governor’s recommendation to terminate the two MPs will be rendered void and of no legal effect.
For this reason, an investigation will be conducted for a final decision to be made.
“Meanwhile, status quo remains, which means these two ministers, namely Hon. Walter Schnaubelt and Hon. Ian Ling-Stuckey, are still members of the New Ireland Provincial Administration,” concluded Minister Niningi.
“At the same time, I am appealing to you and all other leaders in New Ireland Province to put aside your differences and work together for the good of the province and its people.”