Leader of Opposition Matthew Wale has lashed out at the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare describing his announcement to fast-track the debate and passage of the controversial extension of Parliament next week as hijacking the Parliamentary process.
Prime Minister in announcing Government business for next week stated only one business which is the postponement of Parliament which require an amendment to the constitution.
In his announcement, he stated that Parliament will resume on Monday but will adjourn to Tuesday for the first reading of the Bill on the constitutional amendment. Parliament will then be adjourned to Thursday during which the Prime Minister will move the second reading of the bill.
Wale told journalists this morning that under standing orders once a minister moves a bill in the second reading it cannot be debated for another clear three days.
But he said, the PM wants to move the second reading on Thursday, debate starts and concludes on the same day— then it goes into committee stage to consider it clause by clause and into third reading and pass.
However, Wale said in any good governance practice, the bill that is before the house is referred to the Bills and Legislation Committee. He adds after that the BLC conducts its hearing and inquiry after that it tables it report with recommendations to Parliament which helps MPs in the second reading debate.
In this case, the Prime Minister and his government have decided to disregard this process, added Wale.
“Obviously the Prime Minister is not interested in Parliamentary practice or good governance—but he wants to short-cut the process. So it clearly is an abuse of process. It sets a bad precedence for the future. No Prime Minister or Government should see it necessary to short cut or undermine parliamentary process especially on a matter of gravity (constitutional amendment),” he said.
Further Wale said this is a constitutional amendment that affects the life of the house which all members of Parliament have a vested interest in.
Wale said the members of the public should engage with the MPs to express their views.
“My sense is the vast majority of Solomon Islanders are opposed to the bill,” said Wale.