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Democracy and legal process has been undermined by the current Papua New Guinea government illegally convening Parliament to push through the 2021 budget, and try to avoid the upcoming vote of no confidence by shutting Parliament down for five months.
Leader of the People’s National Congress Party, Peter O’Neill said the warlord mentality of James Marape will not prevail, and these illegal actions will now be brought before the Supreme Court.
“Marape and the Speaker have made a mockery of our nation’s Parliament, and perverted the Parliamentary process that was given to us by our Founding Fathers.
“They have overridden the elected mandate of Members of Parliament, and they have countermanded the democratic process that has served and protected our people for the past 45 years.
“The demonstrated will of the majority of Members of the Parliament was confirmed last Friday when 57 elected Members voted to adjourn Parliament until 01 December, but now this decision of the Parliament has been illegally overridden.
“Never before in the history of our country has a Prime Minister knowingly and willingly colluded with the Speaker, to illegally recall the Parliament with the clear intention of preventing the majority of elected Members to represent their people on the floor of the Parliament.
“They have prevented the democratic right of more than half of the people of Papua New Guineas to be represented in the Parliament Chamber today.
“Nearly 60 elected Members could not be in the Parliament, with most being outside of Port Moresby, and these Members are mandated by law to sit in the Parliament, and Marape and the Speaker have conspired to make sure they were not present.”
O’Neill said the government and the Speaker very well know that their action was illegal, because the rules that govern Parliamentary process are clear and follow clear procedures.
“On 13 November the Leader of the Opposition moved a motion to suspend Standing Orders ahead of seeking approval of Members to adjourn Parliament.
“When you suspend Standing Orders that can only be done with the approval of the majority of Members this means standing orders do not apply and a motion can be moved.
“Under this authority given to him by the Parliament, the Opposition Leader then lawfully moved a motion to adjourn Parliament, and this was supported by 57 Members of Parliament against the 37 Government Members.
“This Speaker has no right, and holds no powers under our Constitution, to override the lawful decision by the majority of Members of the Parliament, and to override the lawful declaration by the Deputy Speaker that Parliament was adjourned until 01 December.
“On every occasion over past 45 years, Parliament has been adjourned by the approval of the majority of Members of Parliament.”
O’Neill said the whole country knows that this shameless sacking of democratic process was done for one reason, and that is Marape’s greedy lust for power.
“The Marape Government lost its mandate last Friday, 13 November, when it was defeated by 57 votes to 37.
“They know very well that more than half of the Parliament do not support their government because of its failures and the damage it has brought upon our people and our economy.
“Even today, after their defeat on Friday, Marape could only call on the support of 49 Members, which is well short of the number required to govern.
“The government does not have the number to survive in a real and proper Parliamentary sitting so it has resorted to breaking the law.
“Today we have also been made aware that cheques are being printed by departments to pay bribes to Members of Parliament, which is what Marape promised them when he was caught on a secret recording saying that he would divide K500 million(US$142 million) between the MPs who side with him.”
O’Neill said for the government to illegally pass the 2021 National Budget and adjourn Parliament for five months is an absolute disgrace.
“The legal process to table the budget was not followed with proposed legislation not having been certified by the State Solicitor or the First Legislative Council.
“Budget documents and the Enabling Legislation had not even been printed for Members to read and consider, so they had absolutely no idea what they were voting for in the budget.”
O’Neill said that no previous Government in the history of the country has ever acted in such a desperate and disgusting manner to cling onto power, and they will be brought before the Nation’s very independent judiciary.
“Every previous change of Government has been conducted smoothly and democratically, and today Marape has tried to turn us into a Third World Dictatorship.
“But he will be made to realise that he cannot destroy our democracy, and that the rule of law will prevail in Papua New Guinea.
“This is not Tari or Hela where his warlords ignore the rule of law through violence, intimidation and corruption.
“The rule of law must and will apply in our country and it will apply.
“Where democracy has been abused it must be corrected according to the Constitution that was established by our Founding Fathers.
“The Opposition is filing a Supreme Court application to have this sitting declared illegal, so that democratic process can be restored and the Parliament legally reconvene.
“We are determined to hold this government to account, and we will do so with the number on the floor when Parliament reconvenes under legal authority,” said O'Neill.
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