PNG PM defends court application over confidence motion

4:07 pm on 17 May 2019

Papua New Guinea's prime minister has defended his government's move to seek a Supreme Court interpretation on the rules of motions of no confidence.

PNG PM Peter O'Neill

PNG PM Peter O'Neill Photo: AFP / Peter Parks

The opposition has accused Peter O'Neill of trying to frustrate the motion against him which it lodged with the speaker of parliament last week.

However, Mr O'Neill claims that the guidelines on such motions are not clear.

He cites a court decision from 2016, the last time he faced a confidence vote, when parliament was directed to sit to debate the motion

Mr O'Neill said those instructions contradicted the separation of powers between the judiciary, parliament and the executive, as prescribed in the constitution.

"We are seeking the court's directions... as to how the rules on... what the rules that we should follow when the motions come on the floor, and clearly establish these particular rulings, because there's a lot of contradiction."

The opposition's motion was to be vetted by a parliament committee at the end of this month, and if in order would proceed to a vote a week later.

But it could be further delayed after Attorney General Alfred Manaseh this week filed an application on behalf of the government to stay the motion being tabled in parliament's next sitting.

Former minister cites corruption as reason for resigning

A former government minister who recently joined the opposition concedes he could no longer tolerate corruption within government.

Sir Puka Temu resigned as Health Minister last month, one of a number of MPs who have recently left the ruling People's National Congress party.

He claimed that he and other MPs in the party tried unsuccessfully to get Mr O'Neill to stand down. According to Sir Puka, the prime minister exerts too much control on state departments, undermining the authority of ministers.

"I resigned because I saw things were not working well. There were a lot of corrupt practices and there were governance processes from agencies and bodies of the state that the leaders did not support."

However Mr O'Neill has characterised the defectors from his government as self-interested politicians lured by what he called "the opposition money machine".

In a statement on Sunday, the prime minister said the MPs had been influenced by promises that were essentially illegal and corrupt, and that the government called for police investigation into these activities.

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