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The National Executive Council has made a decision and Gazetted ( No. G279 ) by the Governor General Sir Bob Dadae today that retrospectively amends and abolishes the office of the Department of Police and the Office of the Secretary for the Department of Police.
The department and the office of the secretary was established and then Gazetted (No. G14) on February 13, 1976.
This effectively means selection of the head of the police force who is the Police Commissioner will not be subjected to the public service recruitment process usually administered by the Department of Personnel Management.
The change comes apparently when the appointment of incumbent Police Commissioner David Manning was challenged in court by former officers and applicants Sylvester Kalaut and Fred Yakasa.
They argued that Manning did not have the qualifications-minimum being a degree certificate to occupy the position which is described as secretary to the police department.
Judge David Cannings upheld their court challenge and disqualified Manning.
Manning and the state however had gone to the Supreme Court asking it to allow them appeal the decision by Cannings.
The Supreme Court on Friday 30th April allowed Manning and the State to appeal the substantive matter.
With this Gazettal notice however, it will have a huge bearing favouring Manning and the State.
Minister for Justice Bryan Kramer had initially hinted when Judge Canning’s ruling was published that he would take it to the NEC to amend clauses that establishes and defines the head of the police department.
Kramer was Minister for Police when Manning was appointed the Police Commissioner.
The public on social media have now labelled the recent act as desperate and contemptuous against substantive issues of a court case that is on foot.
The last major controversial amendment was made by Parliament when Peter O’Neill was elected as Prime Minister in August 2011.
Parliament sat till late in the evening awaiting the Supreme Court reference decision challenging O’Neill’s election.
A majority ruling said O’Neill’s election was unconstitutional and invalid as there was no vacancy in the office of the Prime Minister.
Parliament then amended laws retrospectively to withdraw its decision in May to approve leave for Sir Michael Somare.
The controversial O’Neill-Namah government then amended the National Executive Council Act to prevent a Member of Parliament from becoming or remaining as Prime Minister when he or she turns 72 years of age.
Parliament voted 68 – 3 to pass the new amendment which needed only a majority vote of 55.
The new law comes into operation on and from August 1, 2011- a day before O’Neill was controversially elected.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill when tabling the new proposed amendments, informed Parliament that the amendment was made by adding after Section 6 to the PM and NEC Act, Section 6A as ‘The Age Limit of Prime Minister’.
O’Neill explained that this amendment does not restrict any person above the age of 72 from being elected as a member of Parliament but only restricts any person from the age of 72 and above from becoming a PM.
GC Sir Michael Somare was 73 at that time so that law disqualified him to be PM.
Riding on the legitimacy of the retrospective legislative amendment which created a vacancy in the position of prime minister, Parliament re-elected Peter O’Neill.