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July 25, 2021

Parkop On Opposition Debate

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The diminishing number of opposition members on the floor of parliament is in debate, both in public circles and social media.

An opinion by NCD Governor Powes Parkop about not needing an opposition in parliament triggered a number of responses, mostly against the governor’s remarks.


NCD Governor Powes Parkop was asked to confirm statements he made in The National newspaper about the government prevailing without an opposition.


He said he was not misquoted. The Westminster system of government is not the only democratic form of government in the world.


"We are capable of self-criticism within the government and this goes on all the time. In government caucuses, we debate fiercely and in parliament, we take our Ministers and PM to task."


Governor Powes further stated that in our traditional system, we are both the government and opposition in one. There was no formal opposition but it was inherent in the system.


He said unfortunately, we have become so caught up with the Westminster model, we measure only in Westminster terms. He refused to measure and defines democracy only in Westminster terms.


There was an overwhelming response to the governors comments, mostly aimed against his opinion.


From “self-scrutiny? What the heck? Never heard of it,” to “unrealistic", the latter from a researcher who brought up a case study under current research entitled “Incentive-Caused Bias”.


Incentive-caused bias can be grasped by asking what happens when parliament is called upon to vote on a bill that pushes for a pay rise for all MP’s, and what will happen when parliament votes to amend the section in the constitution that governs motions of no confidence.


Paul Barker, from the Institute of National Affairs, said it’s not only the Westminster system that requires an opposition.


It also applies under the US system, with checks on the executive in the White House provided by the different parties in congress and the senate.


All these systems do enable some debate from within ruling government parties, but clearly more rigorous debate will tend to be provided from having a serious opposition, which has the numbers and capacity to make the executive government think twice and fear the consequences of making wrong moves.


The opposition leader said his members defected for obvious reasons; they were not able to access their funds to develop their electorates.


In 2012, eight MPs were elected to parliament under the PNG party banner, without which they may have never won their seats to begin with.

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