16 Aug 2013

PNG Opposition says Parliament must debate asylum seeker deal

5:05 pm on 16 August 2013

Papua New Guinea's opposition says the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill is yet to facilitate any debate in parliament about the controversial refugee resettlement deal he signed with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd.

The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of fast-tracking a constitutional challenge by the opposition against the asylum seeker deal.

The deputy opposition leader Sam Basil condemns signs from Mr O'Neill's office that it will amend the constitution to ensure that the deal cannot be legally challenged.

Mr Basil says that the Prime Minister signed the deal without consulting parliament or even his own cabinet.

"The Prime Minister went on radio and said that he brought it to the party caucus. Now, the party caucus is not parliament. The floor of parliament is where we have the opposition, government benches and the middle benches, and we discuss issues. I know he's got 90 percent majority of members of parliament (in his government coalition) but that doesn't mean that his party (People's National Congress) caucus is the majority in the parliament. Parliament must be used to deliberate on such issues."