Hon Tobias Kulang MP and Chief IlaGeno have jointly filed a Supreme Court proceeding on 16 October 2013 challenging the constitutionality of the Parliament’s Constitutional Amendment No 36 – Motions of No Confidence Law passed in February 2013. The law amended Constitution Section 145(4)extending the grace period from motion of no confidence against a government from 18 to 30 months. The defendants are theSpeaker and the Parliament.
The proceedingis brought under the Constitution Section 18(1). The Plaintiffs said in a joint statement:
“The new law shields a corrupt or weak or dictatorial government for 42 out of 60 months (i.e. 5 year-term) from being held accountable by the Parliament. The fundamental tenet of democracy is that the executive arm of government must be accountable to the People through their Parliament. Unlike Constitutions of other countries ours expressly states under Section 141 that the Prime Minister and his Ministers are ‘collectively answerable to the People, through the Parliament, for the proper carrying out of the executive government of Papua New Guinea and for all things done by or under the authority of the National Executive; and it is liable to be dismissed from office, either collectively or individually’.The new law offends Section 141.
“The People, being the ultimate authority, through their Parliament have the right and the authority to keep the executive government accountable in a timely manner whenever necessary. Questions and grievance debates on the floor of Parliament and Parliamentary Committee system are not adequate measure to keeping the executive accountable. Where a government at any given time is seen to be weak, corrupt, tyrannical or dictatorial so much so that it must be held accountable immediately by way of a successful motion of no confidence the Parliament is entitled to exercise that authority. However when exercise of that authority is delayedby law for 30 months to the extent that the law acts as a restriction or prohibition on the People’s ultimate accountability power we no longer have the kind of democracy we chose in 1975”.
“We believe that the Parliament is the trustee of the People’s legislative power and it exercises that power for the benefit of the People. But when the Parliament passes law that restricts its own authority and shields a weak, corrupt and tyrannical government from immediate and timely accountability it is no longer acting for its beneficiaries, the People.It is unwise and simply unheard of for Parliament to restrict or prohibit for any length of time its best weapon against corrupt or dictatorial government! Whose interest is it serving?”
“Motions of no confidence is not a bad thing; it is healthy for democracy. It is an integral and necessary part of Westminister style democracy we have adopted. It must not be abused by Parliament. This will cause instability of government and affect national progress. Contrariwise Parliament must not pass law restricting and denying itself this ultimate accountability mechanism which must remain at its disposal at any time to protect the People and the nation against corrupt or dictatorial governments. To do so is unconscionable and irresponsible!
“In August 2013 we each wrote to a number of independent Constitutional authorities granted automatic standing by the Constitution under Section 19(3) urging them to question the law in the Supreme Court. To date none of them have done so.
“We cannot sit idly by when the People’s legislative power is abused for the benefit of a few. We founded our Papua Guinea Constitutional Democratic Party primarily to protect, preserve and promote the goals, rules, norms, values and principles provided for in the Constitution. We have taken this action to preserve our Constitution and the democratic ideals it provides for the People. We call on all concerned citizens to join and support us in protecting our Constitution that is continuously under attack by the Parliament itself”.
Hon Tobias Kulang MP IlaGeno GCLOBE QPM