PNG's fresh start: Ogio

GOVERNOR General Sir Michael Ogio has provided hope that the new government will repeal the questionable laws passed by Parliament during the political and constitutional crisis which emerged last year.
PNG's fresh start: Ogio PNG's fresh start: Ogio PNG's fresh start: Ogio PNG's fresh start: Ogio PNG's fresh start: Ogio

In his opening address for the official opening of the ninth Parliament yesterday, Ogio thanked various groups, including the public service, the business community, trade unions and the disciplined forces, for their efforts in guiding PNG through the challenges which followed the demise of the Somare government.

"I watched the events of [the] last 12 months take place from a vantage point and I'm happy to say that these challenges are now behind us for the better," Ogio said.

"Mr. Speaker, in many ways I was also a central figure in these political challenges involving the three arms of government - the legislature, the judiciary and the executive government.

"I was confronted with legal issues as to who to recognise as Prime Minister and where I should get advice from.

"Just a short distance from my residence at the entrance of Government House, I watched two different police factions fight over power and we know all too well how many of us tried extremely hard to find solutions to the problem."

It's clear what brought an end to the stalemate.

"The recent national elections may have come around at the right time because the outcome has provided the natural healing process to a dispute we could not resolve," Ogio said.

"For example, we now have in government cabinet and parliamentary colleagues seated side by side who, a few short months ago, were adversaries.

"This is a good, positive and a unique development in the evolution of our fledgling democracy and the maturity of our political leaders and it can only contribute to the reconciliation process started by this government under the capable leadership of Prime Minister, honourable Peter O'Neill."

In regards to the legislation passed over the past months, which included controversial retrospective laws, Ogio said a list had been identified for review and repeal.

"We will review the provisions of the Constitution to ensure stability," he said.

"These will include those provisions relating to the election of the prime minister, the term of Parliament and so on.

"We will amend the organic law on national and local level government elections as well as the organic law on the integrity of political parties and candidates to make them more effective and relevant to our needs today.

"At the same time we will enact new legislations to remove political uncertainty and create a stable environment for the government to implement its policies and programs.

"Mr. Speaker, in line with our desire to promote reconciliation and unity and to build respect and independence among the three arms of government, we will repeal the Judicial Conduct Act, the Supreme Court Amendment Act, the Parliamentary Powers & Privileges Act and amendments to the Prime Minister & National Executive Council Act."

As part of this approach, parliamentarians who instigated the various troubling bills and acts will also be let off the hook and it's possible this will extend to those who face contempt of court proceedings.

"We will also pass an Act of Indemnity to indemnify all persons affected, as similar steps have been taken in other parts of the world," Ogio said.

The GG also warned Parliament that the government would require support from both sides of the house, along with public servants, the business sector, churches and village communities.

"All of us have a role to play because all of us have one common objective and that is to build a better and a prosperous future for all our citizens," he said.

"We cannot do it by tearing each other apart as we've tried to do in the last twelve months but Mr Speaker, if we've learnt anything from that experience it is that we can put our differences aside and forge a new way forward.

"Through the process of the national elections our people have given us another chance to make a fresh start and I believe we have the blend of experience and young leaders to make it work this time."

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