VoNC motion yet to be screened

The Vote of No Confidence motion against the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill will not be moved on the floor of Parliament when sitting resumes on the 28th of May.

Acting Parliamentary Counsel Richard Whitchurch explained this is because the Private Business Committee that screens all private business motions did not sit on Wednesday last week, because parliament was adjourned. The Committee only meets when parliament meets or convenes.

The Committee is chaired by Speaker Job Pomat, the Deputy Speaker and five other elected Members who are not ministers.

In a question and answer session with the media on Monday on parliamentary procedures and processes, the Acting Parliamentary Counsel Richard Whitchurch, Acting Clerk of Parliament Kala Aufa and his deputy Basil Kambuliagen clarified misreporting in the media over the Vote of No Confidence motion process.

Whitchurch explained that the Vote of No Confidence motion against the Prime Minister will not be on the notice paper to be moved when parliament resumes on 28th May as constitutional legal requirements have not yet been met. 

Under the standing orders 130 (4), a notice of motion, given under section 145 of the Constitution is a private notice motion.

Pursuant to Standing order 130 (1) a notice of a motion of no confidence is submitted to the Chairman of the Private Business Committee, who is also the Speaker.

That committee meets each Wednesdays, during meetings of parliament to examine all notices of Private Business motions submitted to the Committee.

They determine whether the terms of the motion are a matter of national importance. 

Since Parliament was adjourned from 7th May, and the Leader of the Opposition filing the VoNC motion at 5:45pm, members of the PBC have not met yet to examine the motion

The Acting Parliamentary Counsel further explained that the notice of motion cannot appear on the Notice paper with a number under private business notice and orders of the day without going through the committee first.

Furthermore, any notice can be dealt with in parliament, after a minimum of 7 days clearance.

“Until these constitutional legal procedures are followed, we cannot move forward with VoNC,” Whitchurch added.

The next opportunity to progress the VoNC motion will be after May 28, if parliament does not adjourn.

Officers from the Office of the Clerk of the National Parliament also went on to explain that a notice can sit for months without being moved in parliament, but can lapse after three meetings of parliament.

A meeting of parliament is when parliament convenes, and this meeting consists of sitting days.

Sally Pokiton