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PNG Government keeps term intact

PARLIAMENT has passed two major constitutional amendments – the first will give Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his government to rule for at-least three years without fearing a leadership change through no-confidence motion.
The other amendment was to section 124 that clarifies the minimum number of days Parliament can sit in a year. 
The amendment now effectively gives members of parliament 40 days sitting time from the initial 63 in one calendar year. 
This bill received overwhelming support with 81-2 votes.
Mr O’Neill who introduced the constitutional amendments — Motions of No-Confidence Law and the Calling of Parliament – laws got the support from his coalition partners to pass the amendments by 81-2 votes. 
In amendments to section 145 of the constitution, it increases the number of days required – from seven days to three months – for a notice of a motion of no confidence to be given and also that motion has to be supported and be signed by a number of Members of Parliament no less than one-fifth of the total number of seats in Parliament.
Only two Opposition MPs present during this week’s session, Bulolo MP Sam Basil and Kundiawa-Gembogl MP Tobias Kulang, voted against the amendments.
They argued that the amendments are unnecessary as the Prime Minister already enjoys a 30-month grace period.
Mr Kulang during debate asked about the role of Parliament.
“I am scared that this legislation will restrict our power to supervise and monitor the executive government,” he said.
“We must be very careful that we do not legislate to restrain ourselves. 
“We have a parliament system with a single chamber where the executive government sits in with the legislator and we have had an history of a new political term ‘kitchen cabinet’ where few people make decisions and bring for parliament endorsement.”
“Conscience must prevail and members must be free to exercise their conscience on the floor of the Parliament.”
The Prime Minister made it very clear that the amendment was to build on the political stability and confidence enjoyed by the country at present.
He also made it very clear that the provision of for motions of no confidence votes remain intact but the Government is giving the process more accountability.
Mr O’Neill during his statement to Parliament assured the House and the nation that he would resign from office if he loses the continued support of at least 56 members of government and Parliament.
“When I got elected into parliament in 2002, my only interest was to serve my people of Ialibu-Pangia,” he said.
“I have been returned three times to this House only because I continue to have the trust and confidence from the people of Ialibu Pangia.
“Similarly, when I got elected to this position in 2012, my aim is to serve the interest of the people and the country. 
“After 12 months I think every member of this Parliament knows very well the sort of government that I want to run for our people and our country and that is a collective government, a consultative government and a government that is for all and not a few.”
Mr O’Neill said there were concerns that this may entrench the powers of the Prime Minister or of a government.
“I want to reiterate this, for any government or any prime minister to be in position, first and foremost it must have the confidence of the people, the trust of the people and confidence of this house to maintain position of a government or a prime minister,” he said.
“To maintain confidence of a government you will continue to need 56 members of Parliament to maintain that level of confidence, and I want to reassure this house, if I ever lose that confidence, I will resign as Prime Minister.”

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