23 Feb 2006

Papua New Guinea MPs say no to an enlarged parliament - for now

7:23 pm on 23 February 2006

The Papua New Guinea Parliament has rejected the Electoral Boundaries Commission report calling for the creation of new Open electorates and the abolition of the 20 provincial governors' seats.

The plan would have increased the total number of seats by 6 to 115.

The National newspaper reports that MPs were concerned about the timing and the cost involved, and the question on whether service delivery will be improved with the new electorates.

However, the Electoral Boundaries Commission can re-introduce the report after 40 days, and it would require a two-third majority decision to have the report shelved.

Foreign Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu said there was a need for electoral reforms but the time-frame was too short.

Morobe Governor Luther Wenge raised concerns that the views of the Morobe people were not considered and the Commission went ahead and drew up its own boundaries.

Cabinet Minister Dame Carol Kidu rejected the report outright, claiming gender equality was not considered - Dame Carol has previously called for the governors' seats to be set aside for women.

The Opposition Leader Peter O'Neill and Madang MP Alois Kingsley called on Parliament to accept the report.