13 May 2010

PNG challenged in amending electoral boundaries

7:02 pm on 13 May 2010

Papua New Guinea's National Research Institute says the government faces a huge challenge to pass constitutional amendments to allow for new electoral boundaries to be drawn up in time for the 2012 elections.

After the creation last year of two new provinces, Hela and Jiwaka, the constitution has to be changed by July to allow for the boundaries' review.

However, unresolved issues around the creation of new electorates remain, particularly in oil and gas-rich Hela.

Hela is seen as being crucial to the massive Liquefied Natural Gas project but there are fears that resource owners opposed to the project could cause unrest.

The Institute's senior researcher, Dr Ray Anere, says the government's task is difficult.

"Amendments to organic law and provincial boundaries would require an absolute majority of say 73 members of parliament [out of 109 MPs]. That is quite a hurdle. I guess the difficulty is getting the interest of members of parliament whose boundaries would be affected by the creation of electorate boundaries for these two new provinces."

Dr Ray Anere