No laws to review provincial electorates

There are no laws in the constitution or in the Organic Law on National and Local Level Elections on how to review provincial electorates.

Deputy Electoral Commissioner, John Kalamoro, revealed this during the two day seminar on the review of the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections and related laws.

This is one of the loopholes currently in the Organic Law which needs to be addressed by parliament.

Kalamora said while the Electoral Boundaries Commission (EBC) can make recommendations on the electorates to cater for any changes it must be part of a re-distribution review.

This was the process undertaken by the EBC and Parliament for the creation for Hela and Jiwaka.

But it also raised constitutional legalities.

“The other thing which we need to understand is that, there are no laws in the constitution or in the organic law on elections o how to review provincial electorates.

“In the Organic Law starting from section 34 onwards to 43 or so, it only talks about procedures on how to review open electorates. And this gap can only be fixed by Parliament. It cannot be fixed by the electoral Commission or the Electoral Boundaries Commission (EBC) for that matter.

This is one of the current issues that need addressing for the EBC to become effective.

Other issues highlighted by Kalamaora include:

  • The next review is well overdue since 2005/2006
  • Cycle to be maintained
  • Adequate resourcing
  • Must be done 3 years prior to the national elections
  • Needs sufficient time
  • Provincial electorates not reviewed since 1977
  • No rule for review of provincial electorates
  • Wide variability in populations sizes for electorates.
  • Remove vested power in parliament
  • Number of electorates and democracy in PNG

Kalamora says they have begun the process of putting together the EBC.

However, Chairman of the Constitutional Law Reform Commission , Dr Eric Kwa, has requested the Government not to select the EBC until the Organic Law is reviewed specifically on what constitutes an electorate.

“”I have suggested to Government that don’t set up the Commission yet. Wait until we complete the report. Because one of the provisions we are reviewing is on the criteria for declaring an electorate.

“Our view is that and that’s the view of the Government and one of the criteria in the Terms of Reference that maybe this criteria is out of date and we need to change it.

The Electoral Boundaries is one of four of the 13 Terms of Reference currently being reviewed by the CLRC and being discussed at the two day seminar in Port Moresby.

Cedric Patjole