PNG opposition seeks court ruling over Speaker's actions

5:13 pm on 11 June 2024
Papua New Guinea parliament in session on 15 February 2024.

Papua New Guinea parliament in session on 15 February 2024. Photo: Loop PNG / Screencapture

The Papua New Guinea opposition is seeking a response from the courts on the behaviour of the Speaker Job Pomat during last week's truncated sitting of parliament.

Parliament was adjourned last Wednesday amid opposition efforts to bring a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister James Marape.

RNZ Pacific's correspondent in PNG, Scott Waide, has confirmed that the opposition is seeking a court injunction, with a view to parliament being recalled.

He said it filed a challenge on Monday over what it saw as the misuse of standing orders by the Speaker.

Waide said the opposition leader Douglas Tomuriesa wants a ruling to set a precedent on how the Speaker applies standing orders in future sittings.

The key bone of contention is the reliance that Pomat placed on advice from the partisan parliamentary committee, the Private Business Committee, which he said advised him the motion file was incorrectly filled in - the fourth time that that claim has successfully been made this year to stymie a no-confidence vote.

The Committee is made up entirely of members of the Pangu Pati, which is the main party in parliament, and the one to which both Pomat and Marape belong.

The opposition is also contemplating asking the courts to force the Speaker to resign his party when acceding to the position, to ensure greater impartiality.

There has been no word yet on Pomat's announcement in parliament last week that he would resign if the courts found he had placed too much credence on the views of the Private Business Committee in relation to the vote of no confidence.

Meanwhile, the opposition remains committed to bringing a motion for a vote of no-confidence in the prime minister and his government.

Waide said MPs remain in 'camps' in and around Port Moresby, awaiting the outcome of the court decision, which could well lead to a recall of parliament within days.

He added both the government and the opposition are claiming they have the numbers.