Incompetent govt is cause of a failing PNG
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The end of OLIPPAC; back to musical chairs


THE PARLIAMENTARY process in Papua New Guinea appears to be going back to the future.

In earlier times, the nation witnessed a parliamentary musical chairs as members blithely skipped from party to party.

It was common for a new member to want to become a Minister regardless of lack of experience.

Ministers were big men and every parliamentarian wanted to be a big man. Where’s my ministry?

The Westminster System was a puzzling abstraction. Its fit with Melanesian culture was non-existent. There was a need for a system that might induce stability. There was no political party that could achieve that.

If the Prime Minister did not provide enough ministries to go around, then parliamentarians promptly changed parties. At whim. For personal gain

The Organic Law of the Integrity of Political Parties (OLIPPAC) changed all that. Musical chairs were unlawful. Members had to stay where they had started at election time.

Now a new corruption began as leaders had the opportunity to bully politicians into following directions they may not want to. Witness the vote to accept the re-election of Sir Paulias Matane in an act that seemed to defy the Constitution.

Now the Supremem Court has rejected a number of provisions of OLIPPAC, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia stating that “restrictions imposed on PNG’s national parliamentarians and their freedom of movement in the National Parliament were unheard of in any democratic countries within the Commonwealth”.

So, it seems, back to parliamentary instability. Anyway, at least the parliamentarians can vote against the Prime Minister. But nothing in the Court’s judgement implies any improvement in political integrity.

Being a parliamentarian is a growth industry for the individual who succeeds at the ballot box. Have a politician in your clan and masses of money fall from the sky.

Paying school fees is small bickies. We want a land cruiser for every family. Where’s my land cruiser? I voted for you.


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Bruce Copeland

This is to put a view that the Westminster system of government is very relevant to PNG in its basic form. PNG people are very different from the English but there have to be the same basic checks and balances in parliament and government.

Corruption has identical features in every political system. It involves diverting resources away from the people for whom it was intended. It goes to a group of favoured people, leaving the rest of the community to go without.

There can be no alternative that varies from the basic process. Perhaps a system based on chaos may take over. The Westminster system is simply the same system that we use in every meeting in the land.

There are the office bearers, members, constitution, points of order, minutes, financial statements, motions, budgets, addressing through the chair and votes with all accompanying checks and balances. The parliamentary process is far more complex but basically the same.

The Westminster system evolved in England and involved an upper House of Lords and lower House of Commons. The carpet in the upper house is royal red.

The carpet of the lower house is the green of grass. The Witan first met under a tree in a field. So too the houses of parliament in Canberra have the same colour scheme. The upper house represents the states.

The Queen does not ever enter the lower house. When she addresses parliament, the lower house members adjourn to the upper house. Too often in the past, the lower house was raided by the soldiers of the crown. The Queen is a constitutional monarch.

PNG does not have a bicameral system of parliament with two houses. There is one house with the regal house represented by the Governor General. In this country, there is effort to include the provinces.

The political systems in Australia, England and the United States have two main party groups with various small political parties. We seldom if ever see a Liberal parliamentarian becoming Labor or vice versa. That would be political suicide.

Liberalism and socialism both have ideologies. These are the ideologies of shopkeepers and workers. Not so the political parties of Papua New Guinea.

These are based on regional agendas, tribal agendas and leaders’ personalities. How could it be different? A PNG ideology based on shopkeepers would be essentially Chinese.

So politicians in PNG have swapped party allegiances as if playing musical chairs. There is a conglomeration of parties in this country at times not unlike a can of worms.

Every procedure in the Westminster system has a tried and true purpose. It is intended to ensure uniformity and proper procedure. It can be like a beautifully maintained Rolls Royce engine.

We find the same basic procedures in most other democratic parliaments of the world. Westminster grew out of Roman law which was derived in part from Greek political thought.

What if quorum and hansard are thrown out? That is a trick question. Hansard has already been thrown out of the house at Waigani. The PNG parliamentary system is being modified with the MP discretionary vote. Is this to be a fund not acquitted?

Every procedure thrown out will weaken the system if a replacement process is not provided. I am reminded of the cement factory in Uganda under the regime of Idi Amin.

Every Friday, the workers had to climb on to the roof to hose down the cement dust. Once the British were kicked out, the workers no longer hosed the roof. After a year, the roof fell in under the massive weight of caked cement. The factory was wrecked.

Let us not talk about the Westminster System not being appropriate to PNG. Do not give the justification for more procedures to be thrown out. There is always the danger that the roof will fall in.

A major contribution to humanity of the Westminster system is the proposition that all men and women are innocent until proven guilty. The onus is on the State to prove guilt.

Let this remain in Papua New Guinea forever. This does not occur everywhere in the world. There are countries in which failure to prove innocence means automatic guilt.

Reginald Renagi

The recent supreme court ruling has opened up a major but brief window of opportunity for maverick MPs to take advantage of the present shortcomings of PM Somare's leadership, and the deficiencies of his NA coalition government.

It is now open slather with every man and his dog clamouring to get the box seat. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes horsetrading going on this weekend which will continue over the next few weeks until the next parliamentary sitting later this month (July).

The opposition is now soliciting the support of any MPs unhappy with Somare and his NA government to defect to them. The aim is to form a credible political group to challenge the PM's leadership by moving a 'vote of no-confidence' vote in Somare at the next sitting.

There is now a six-month window of opportunity in the life of this parliament to make a change before the national elections in 2012.

It is now or never to change the PM, otherwise we all have to wait and endure a bad government performance.

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