BY ELIAS NANAU
Former Chief Justice Sir Arnold Amet says events in Parliament last Friday were constitutionally acceptable.
Amet was speaking to the media yesterday about concerns by Madang’s North Coast people from the Sumgilbar local level government who opposed exploration of sand mining when asked by the media for his opinion.
“Part of our constitutional democracy is that anytime at all when Parliament sits, if a party or parties are disaffected with the government, they could core less to block constitutional amendments of the budget, block legislation and that’s a constitutional practice all over the world,” Amet commented.
He said in our constitutional framework though, it becomes critical at times a government has an 18 months grace period after which a vote of no confidence can be moved.
Amet who was also a former Member of Parliament for Madang Regional said a vote of no confidence in the conventional democracy that PNG has adopted from the Westminster model is by blocking the budget.
“By blocking constitutional amendments, that’s virtually vote of no confidence,” he said.
“In a traditional model like we have in Australia, UK, in New Zealand, when that happens the Prime Minister in the ruling party does not have the confidence of the house.”
“You expect the Prime Minister to tender his resignation to the head of state and call for fresh election,” Amet said.
In another scenario like in Australia, they have what is called a “ leadership spill” where there is leadership change in the ruling party.
Amet said the opposition had the numbers on the floor last Friday, successfully suspended standing orders and adjourned Parliament beyond the grace period for the government.
He said a couple of things can happen within the period and one easy process was for the Prime Minister to tender his resignation to the head of state like what Peter O’Neill did in May.
Amet said there may be changes in numbers with members moving back to government as often in PNG politics.
However, if the opposition maintains numerical upper hand, they should successfully move a vote of no confidence.