Leader of the Opposition Belden Namah said Speaker Pomat’s suggestion to also defer the National General Election for one full year is a direct threat to our democracy and the Constitution.
Namah said it is dangerous because given the normal 70 per cent attrition rate of Members of Parliament losing their seats at every election, many sitting MPs will be tempted to support a deferment of the elections in order to enjoy the perks and privileges of office one year longer.
He said this will be in total breach of the Constitution on the term of MP and on the calling of Parliament.
“An amendment to the National Constitution requires three separate sittings of Parliament of two months apart and therefore cannot be safely done in the time we have.
“Even if an amendment were done somehow, the precedence set for repeated such acts in future will reduce the Parliament to a rubber stamp, render the Constitution ineffective and circumvent the rule of Law so completely so as to make it useless and laughable,” Namah said.
Governor for New Ireland Sir Julius Chan, one of Papua New Guinea’s founding fathers and former Prime Minister has said: ‘No excuse can be a good excuse for the deferment of elections when the people must elect their leaders and choose their government’.
“I agree totally with Rt. Hon. Sir Julius. Nothing else is more important or fundamental to this country than the conduct of the National General Elections in accordance with our National Constitution. I sense that the entire drama is being orchestrated by Government and it has been going on for a long time.
“First we have a Member in Government introduce a Private Member’s Bill to reintroduce the First Past the Post system of elections. The PM immediately speaks against it, but the law is on Notice Paper and gaining traction.
“This is against the Constitution and the recommendations of the Constitutional Law Reform Commission to keep the Limited Preferential Voting (LPV) system.
“Then we have the Speaker call for a deferment of Elections by one year. This ought to have been raised on the floor of Parliament which is the right and proper forum, but it is broached immediately after the Parliament rises, as if to test the waters,” Namah said.
He added that a National Census has been deferred, against the law, and the Common Roll update is not yet done, with just seven months before the National General Elections.
Namah said, under the law a completed Common Roll will need to be publicized and the public given three months for public scrutiny, be checked and verified before finalization.
The Leader of the Opposition believes these move is cunning, dangerous and an illegal manipulation of Parliamentary and Electoral systems and is Unconstitutional.
“In case anybody thinks he has this one in the clincher, I refer us back 19 years ago to an attempt by the then government to defer elections, a principle ground being the lack of an updated Common Roll. The National Court ruled that the Constitution rules and ordered National General Elections to be conducted forthwith using whatever Common Roll that was available,” Namah said.