Parliamentarians ‘no show’ in PNG – session adjourned

Papua New Guinea's empty Parliament
Papua New Guinea's empty Parliament yesterday... both government and opposition MPs failed to turn up because of meetings. Image: Kennedy Bani/The National

By Miriam Zarriga in Port Moresby

Speaker Job Pomat walked into an empty chamber of Papua New Guinea’s Parliament after the bell was rung about 2pm yesterday, declared a lack of quorum, and left — reportedly disappointed that MPs were late again.

It is understood that government MPs were held up in a caucus meeting nearby, and the opposition MPs were also busy in a meeting.

Clerk to Parliament Kala Aufa told The National newspaper that Parliament had to be adjourned by Pomat because of the lack of quorum.

“Standing orders of Parliament state that sittings must be conducted on a timely basis,” he said.

“The Speaker wants members [MPs] to be on time [punctual].”

Government MPs walked into an empty chamber later after Speaker Pomat had declared it adjourned.

Prime Minister James Marape was advised of the adjournment and sought an audience with Pomat.

Accused of lack of respect
Opposition Leader Belden Namah accused the government MPs of showing no respect to the “people’s house”.

Parliament was expected to resume today at 10am.

Aufa said 10 bills were expected to be tabled and debated.

They include the OLIPAC 2020, Constitutional Amendment (Decentralisation) Law 2020, Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill 2021, MVIL 2021 and KCH Authorisation (Amendment) Bill 2021.

Aufa confirmed that Parliament would sit for two weeks.

Papers are also expected to be tabled by Marape, Minister for Justice Bryan Kramer, and Minister for Civil Aviation Sekie Agisa.

Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey is expected to give a ministerial statement on the covid-19 economic response package on expenditure.

Parliament was forced to close in April after some staff members tested positive of the covid-19.

Pandemic Response Controller David Manning advised Pomat in a letter that the matter be treated as a threat to national security .

Manning wanted all staff of Parliament to be tested and the parliamentary premises decontaminated.

Miriam Zarriga is a reporter for The National. Articles are republished with permission.

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