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June 24, 2021
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Attorney General calls on Government Lawyers to Apply for a Stay Order on Vote of no Confidence Motion

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By Adelaide Kari – EMTV News, Port Moresby Attorney General, Alfred Manase, has instructed government lawyers to apply for a stay order on the vote of no confidence motion until all matters relating to the doctrine of the separation of powers are dealt with by the Supreme Court. The Attorney General stated that the urgent application is not to stop the vote of no confidence but to ensure the rule of law is respected and observed at all time. “I want to announce to you and the people of Papua New Guinea that yesterday I filled an urgent application in the Supreme Court seeking an order from the court to stay the Parliament from entertaining the Notice of Motion of no confidence until the Supreme Court makes a final determination of a Supreme Court reference my predecessor, Davis Steve, file in the Supreme Court on 3rd of December 2018 (SCR 5 OF 2018).” The Supreme Court has not set a date for a hearing on the stay order as of yet. The separation of Powers and whether the Judiciary can have a say in the National Parliament arm of Government, is what Attorney General Alfred Manase says is the reason behind his office filling the stay order. Manase said that in his view, the notice of motion would be contemptuous of the Supreme Court reference filled by Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, last December. “I took this course of action after receiving a letter from the Speaker of Parliament advising the he is in receipt of the Notice of Motion for the Vote of No Confidence. I have sought legal advice and have formed the view that I should apply for a Stay on the vote on the No-Confidence Motion by Parliament. In my view the Notice of Motion would be contemptuous of the Supreme Court, which is yet to answer critical Constitutional questions concerning Notice of Motion of No-Confidence which are pending before it which are arising from the Supreme Court applications of Section 145.” The Attorney General was questioned on whether pre-empting the vote of no-confidence on behalf of the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, to allow Mr O’Neill to hold onto the top position. “This is not about numbers, it is not about the vote of No-Confidence, It’s about preserving the Integrity of the different institution and that is critical.” The matters have been lingering since 2016 when the former Opposition Leader, Don Polye, sought a reference in which the court ordered parliament to deal with the vote of no confidence. The court in 2016 also ordered that future votes of no confidence be dealt with within seven days – basically rewriting part of parliamentary standing orders. The main sticking point is the argument that the supreme court orders of 2016 interferes with the functions of one part of Government – the Parliament. Government lawyers are arguing that in the case of the 2016 Polye ruling, the courts overstepped the boundaries. In its current form, the 2016 orders as they stand, bind the speaker to act within seven days of when a motion is filed and decided upon. Opposition MP, Dr. Allan Marat, said yesterday in a Facebook video, that the Speaker is judicially bound to act on the motion of vote of no confidence. This means that any delay could result in the speaker being held in contempt of court. The idea with the stay order being sought is to make sure all the questions are ironed out and the distinction between parliament and courts is restored before any vote of no confidence is moved on the floor of parliament. Outside of the legal determinations around the VONC, as proven when Parliament resumed and then adjourned to the 28th, the final determination on whether a VONC is viable will depend on who has the majority of members to command the control of the floor, when the house resumes.]]>

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