20 Apr 2012

PNG's Duma denies new law stripping powers of Supreme Court

7:29 am on 20 April 2012

A Papua New Guinea government minister has defended the Supreme Court Amendment Bill as a way to regulate the conduct of judges.

The law prevents the Supreme Court from halting new laws until after constitutional challenges are heard.

It's retrospective to December 9, 2011, the day the court ruled the parliamentary removal of Sir Michael Somare as Prime Minister was illegal.

The O'Neill government says the new law is its response to the Supreme Court's move to stay the controversial new Judicial Conduct Act, giving government the power to suspend judges.

The Gas and Petroleum Minister, William Duma, says government was forced to act because the Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia refused to step down.

"It's not stripping the powers. It's regulating the powers. It goes back to the scenario where allegations made against him, he could have simply stepped aside. It would have been an opportunity for him to clear himself."