More than one hundred MPs voted for the bill to extend the grace period in which a no confidence vote can be brought against a serving Prime Minister from 18 months to 30 months.
Firmin Nanol reports
Presenter: Firmin Nanol
Speaker: PNG Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, Opposition leader, Belden Namah, Western Highlands Governor, Paias Wingti
NANOL: Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, introduced the proposed constitutional amendment bill to avoid a no confidence vote and to extend the life of his government by two-years-and-six months. Mr. O'Neill says it's intended to give ample time for his government and himself to be judged on performance. He says changes of government in the past created political instability and prime ministers and ministers were always looking at protecting their backs and not concentrating on governing their country.
O'NEILL: Stability and continuity of government is good for the country. It allows us to set the foundation for economic growth, improve health and social conditions of our people and securing out the future of our children by investing in education.
Since Section 145 of the Constitution was first used successfully in March, 1980, our country has endured a period of great instability, because of constant threat of change of governments within six months or 18 months as the grace period was extended after 1992. Consistency of loyalties means governments are playing for survival, rather than implementing policies to bring real change for our people. We cannot simply allow this to continue.
NANOL: He says if the proposed law passes next year, it won't remove the provision for a no confidence vote against any serving Prime Minister, but will allow it to be moved after two-years-and-six months.
O'NEILL: This legislation does not remove the provision of vote of no confidence. If the Prime Minister does not deliver or the government does not deliver. It is subject to a vote of no confidence after 30 months.
However, at least that is sufficient time that is given by parliament to make a judgement over performance of any government.
That is why Mr. Speaker, I urge all members of this parliament to support this amendment.
NANOL: PNG's Opposition leader, Belden Namah and his members of parliament all backed the motion and voted for the first and second readings of the bill to be passed.
He says it's good for the country to create political stability and that 18 months grace period is not enough to judge a serving Prime Minister or their government.
Mr Namah says the law will benefit parliament and any leader of the country not just the O'Neill government.
NAMAH: We, the Opposition believe it is unfair and unjust to expect a government to prove its full potential within 18 months. Therefore, we as politicians, as responsible leaders, we thoroughly support the bill for an extention of 30 months. The move also has the potential of mitigating political instability as a result of several propositions that was made on the integrity law.
NANOL: Former prime minister and now Western Highlands Governor, Paias Wingti, also gave his backing to extend the grace period from 18 months to 30 months. He says such laws are good for a very young by-plan to democracy like Papua New Guinea.
WINGTI: The importance depends on stability. If the government is stable and the Prime Minister's stable, and his own executive government is stable, their able to manage the affairs of this nation. Because it is so important for a young country that the government must run this country with confidence and must be able to place long term visions of the country. For the first time, Prime Minister, you're lucky you know. When your brother was Prime Minister, I never had all this money. Every day, every six months, I have to watch for the back, watch whose running away from me you know. I was not governing. I was worried about retaining power. Today, this bill is going to give you the golden opportunity Prime Minister to make sure that in the next five years we build this great nation for all the young people and people coming after us.
NANOL; The third and the final reading and debate of the proposed law will take place after February, next year. If passed, it will replace a current clause under Section 145 of the Constitution which says a vote of no confidence can be moved against a Prime Minister 18 months after a formation of government following a national election to buy after 30 months. One hundred and two members of parliament, both from the government and Opposition voted for the first and second reading and debate of the bill to have it passed as law. Nine out of the total 111 members of parliament were absent during the debates and passage of the proposed law. Parliament also passed PNG's 2013 budget and adjourned the session till February, 2013, for the Christmas and New Year.