PNG Parliament dissolves


Papua New Guinea’s 10th Parliament of 2017-2022 reached the end of road Friday with Members of Parliament now heading into campaign mode to seek re-election.

The last day was a 12-hour marathon session which ended at around 10pm after which time MPs departed the Chamber, some for the last time.

A number of bills and speeches were presented and final “thank yous” and “goodbyes” were given by Prime Minister James Marape and Opposition Leader Belden Namah.

Speaker Job Pomat also presided over his final sitting and thanked MPs for their support over the last 5 years.

The tenure of the 10th Parliament was nothing short of unprecedented. During that time, Peter O’Neill resigned as prime minister after a strong move to oust him, seven MPs passed away and the Parliament was attacked by police, the very people charged to enforce the law, in 2018.

And of course, the well-documented challenges the new prime minister faced, such as a vote of no-confidence challenge a year in office which he narrowly survived.

In 2018, after the glitz and glamour of the APEC summit, PNG’s security forces unhappy over delayed allowances, stormed Parliament House before a sitting and damaged numerous properties.

The show of dissatisfaction and vandalism by the security forces set in motion an onslaught of public outcry for the resignation of O’Neill and gave the Opposition ammunition to mount a no-confidence challenge.

After a number of significant resignations in early months of 2019, come as O’Neill succumbed to the calls and resigned, much to the dismay of his loyal supporters. He then facilitated and backed the election of his former Finance Minister James Marape to succeed him.

After Marape’s ascension to the top post, the next three years marked a number of significant events.

Seven MPs passed away: Thomas Pelika (Menyamya) Sir Mekere Morauta (Moresby North-West), Richard Mendani (Kerema), Sam Akoitai (Central Bougainville), Jonny Alonk (Middle Ramu), Roy Biyama (Middle Fly) and William Samb (Goilala).

The COVID-19 global pandemic also forced Parliament to host an emergency sitting, and later forced it to adjourn due to the threat it posed to staff.

In the end, Marape thanked all MPs for the dedication and commitment for attending the marathon session.

At this stage it all appears no current MP will bow out and retire, but all seek a renewed mandate. But from past experiences, more than half of sitting MPs lose their seats come elections.

The 10th parliament was full of vibrant debates, the fluidity of alliances and demonstrated the best and the worst of PNG politics.

Prime Minister James Marape says Pangu Pati expects to consolidate the formation of the next government with more MPs joining its camp.

The Post-Courier confirmed that Treasurer Ian Ling- Stuckey and Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Minister Wesley Raminai were joining Pangu.

A National Alliance official also confirmed the two MPs’ defection from their camp but advised they had yet to receive an official advice.

An announcement is expected to be made when Pangu Pati holds its Convention on 26 April, two days before the issue of election writs.

In his final message to the 10th Parliament, Marape said he was privileged to have young vibrant leaders that contributed immensely to generational change in leadership.

He spoke highly of the achievements of his government in the last three years, especially with the help of those young leaders.

“We would not have achieved our milestones and prudently managed the economy without the unequivocal bipartisan support from this Parliament, including the calibre of young leaders which I am privileged to count as members of our government,” he said.

“I have maintained all along that the generational change in leadership has brought about innovative and transformational ideas that are geared towards improving our livelihoods and ensuring we take giant steps to realise our collective developmental aspirations.

“This has been a government of change, deeply committed to initiating policy and legislative reforms to ensure our people benefit from our development priorities and outcomes, as enshrined in the Eight-Point Plan and National Constitution.

“These important directives have been further translated to the formulation of the PNG Vision 2050, Medium Term Development Plans, and Sectoral and Integrated Provincial and District Development Plans, which now serve as our guidepost in developing our own reforms.

“The theme; ‘STABLE GOVERNMENT INVESTING IN INCLUSIVE BROAD-BASED GROWTH’ is relevant to our cause, as it clearly resonates with our government’s initiatives, development priorities and deliverables under the ‘Loloata Outcomes’ to create a conducive, stable and enabling environment to implement broad-based economic growth initiatives.

“It is a renewal of our development approaches in the way we conduct business now and into the future.

“We encourage any government to maintain continuity in these initiatives and development priorities.

“We are indeed proud to say that the key policy and legislative reforms of this government have been translated into measurable outcomes that are here to stay and can be carried over by future governments,” said PM Marape.