Marape stands firm amid political crisis
Is the 2021 budget legal?

I was there in parliament, let me explain

Gary Juffa - "I remained with Marape. There were not enough compelling reasons to change the government"

| Governor of Oro Province

PORT MORESBY - We the elected officials of Papua New Guinea owe it to our people to explain our decisions in parliament where we are mandated to speak for the people and on behalf of their interests.

This is our fundamental responsibility, along with making laws.

I do my best to keep my people of Oro abreast of what is happening and what decisions I have made and why.

I apologise to my people of Oro, and indeed those who support me, if I have been found wanting in this effort for some major decisions of late.

Sometimes we may make decisions that are unpopular and even offend those who we represent, are colleagues with, are friends of or respect. Whatever it is, we have to make our stance clear.

Now everyone has an opinion about what happened on Tuesday, when the budget was passed and parliament adjourned. Just like everyone has an opinion about what happened last Friday, when the Opposition briefly took charge of proceedings.

Of course, I am talking about PNG politics.

I was there in parliament on both days.

Friday was intriguing to say the least. I was not surprised and I respect the right of all MPs who made their decisions for whatever reason.

Tuesday was business as usual as far as I am concerned.

Both days will go down in political history for PNG and be discussed and analysed beyond measure and everyone will be for or against the actions of either group that stood on each side of the house.

As for myself, I remained with the government of James Marape on Friday. There were not enough compelling reasons to change the government. I stand firm on this conclusion still.

On Tuesday I was satisfied the reasoning of the Speaker, and obviously of his legal advisors, that the surprising actions by the opposition on Friday, were a non-event and thereby his action in directing parliament to proceed was lawful. The budget was duly passed.

Once more there will be those who are going to rail against what happened and declare foul, and then there will be those who will be certain that no laws were broken and that all is in order and say so, just as passionately.

There will be lawyers and experts on both sides equally convinced they are correct.

There are always two sides in any conflict. You have to choose one. I chose the advice of the side I am on, that of the government of James Marape and thus I relied on the advice of our lawyers.

Not being a lawyer, I won’t go into legal details but my own layman’s understanding of what our lawyers extensively reviewed and provided opinion on is summarised here in terms of the reasons why I was satisfied that the Speaker was indeed justified in his directing parliament to continue.

Q - What does the law say about moving a motion in parliament to adjourn?

A - (Standing Orders - Adjournment of the Parliament) – “43[16] A motion for the adjournment of the Parliament may be moved only by a Minister, and no amendment can be moved to the motion.”

Of course there are many legal and non-legal opinions and detailed arguments for and against, this is just mine and why I participated on Tuesday.

It’s there in the Standing Orders. “A motion for the adjournment of the Parliament may be moved ONLY by a Minister.” On Friday, the motion was not moved by a Minister.

Therefore there was no adjournment. Parliament continued.

In fact I believe several members of the Opposition were in town on Tuesday and did not attend. They should have, to represent those who elected them to raise such issues in parliament. That would have been the right thing to do.

Well they didn‘t. They were at the courthouse trying to obtain orders to stop parliament and stop those who attended parliament.

Anyway, they have the option and right to dispute this and translate as they see fit and, if appropriately inspired, take the matter to court for the court to adjudicate.

What should not happen is a repeat of 2011 where violence and chaos and mayhem rocked PNG and caused much anxiety and installed a government that hardly served PNG interests.

Let the courts decide and let us all respect and accept those results and act accordingly.

If, after all the dust settles and I have to move to Opposition, so be it. I am familiar with that place and will be fine there.

I will do all I can with what I have till 2022. My people can then judge me and, whatever the outcome, I will survive. Being the underdog is nothing new.


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Lindsay F Bond

PNG folk will do well to read and discuss comment by Constitutional Law and Reform Commission (CLRC) Chairman, Wewak MP, Hon Kevin Isifu.


My hope is that better understandings will prevail and in time, amounting to a common resolve.

Meanwhile, at NRL matches in Australia, decisions by a referee are (to some extent) subject to immediate review by a process often spoken of as 'the bunker'.

The action of a PNG Speaker afterward reversing outcome of events arrived at in front of a PNG Acting Speaker, has a likelihood of leading to stressful testing times. But let's see what the court finds of this today.

Lindsay F Bond

Of interest and certainly not for amusement, a thought may need review. It is that an 'Acting Speaker' has full authority which (it seems) is then for elected representative to act upon without delay, the governance process and economy of process being at stake.

From the Virgin Isles comes report "then acting Speaker of the House of Assembly Honourable Delores Christopher (R5) acted in accordance with the Standing Orders on August 14, 2014 and as such her ruling cannot be overruled even by the substantive Speaker of the House of Assembly".


PNG may have little persuasion from the above, and this comment of mine is as an uninformed bystander. Yet of words and permissions by a PNG Acting Speaker, the hitherto certainty may be at risk. What then the economy of process?

This afternoon, the matter may be entertained in legal process at Port Moresby.

This is just confusing things, Lindsay. The whole point here is that Standing Orders were breached, as Gary clearly points out - KJ

Philip Fitzpatrick

Isn't this all beautifully convoluted?

Namah thinks that because he moved to suspend standing orders the requirement for a minister to move an adjournment was nullified making it possible for someone in the opposition to do so.

Best not listen to Peter, Mr Namah.

Poor old William Duma must be totally confused by now.

Lindsay F Bond

Everybody is entitled to opinion, to express it and bring lawful measures to act upon it. Well said, Governor Juffa.

Now if I was a person placing a bet, where will I put my two toea on the question of legality?

Some say the fact of a motion to suspend 'Standing Orders' has particular effect. My guess is that questions will come as to the validity of the Speaker's entitlement to overrule an action (decision and pronouncement) of the Deputy Speaker unless that entitlement is explicit.

If not explicit, then more will be said and the legal profession may have another win.

A bet of two toea awaits.

The issue was that the mover of the motion to adjourn should have been a minister. This did not happen so the ruling to adjourn was invalid - KJ

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