Should Lying in the Haus Tambaran be made a Criminal Offence?

Readers of The Garamut will be aware that I have previously called for the need of urgent political reform to PNG’s political framework of checks and balances.

I made this call on the back of the ongoing political impasse PNG has been embroiled in for the majority of the past nine months since Peter O’Neill wrestled power off Sir Michael Somare.

There have been several good discussions happening on PNG’s blogosphere regarding the idea of political reform in PNG – all of which have had a clear focus on veritably reforming parliament via the possibility of bicameralism.

But I believe the argument for political reform in PNG is much more comprehensive than simply arguing for a change in the make-up of the structure of PNG’s legislature and the process of how bills become acts – and even much more than the creation of a parliamentary system which may be deemed to be more Papua New Guinean-friendly.

This is but only one aspect of possible political reform that may help strengthen PNG’s political checks and balances.

PNG’s political impasse has clearly demonstrated that despite its best intentions, our systems of government, including the separation of powers, can be too easily usurped.

This should be distressing to all Papua New Guineans.

It may be fair to say that some fault of the situation PNG finds itself in right now can be allocated to a shortage of quality political leaders. However, this doesn’t mean that we should not be proactively looking at how we can improve our systems of government for the better.

What is certain is that if PNG politicians are able to abuse current parliamentary processes, then the same possibility must also be recognized as being a reality if PNG did indeed introduce bicameralism.

It is imperative that any political reform in PNG needs to take a more encompassing view of what aspects of our systems of government can be improved.

With this in mind, I read with great interest a recent report that Campbell Newman’s new Queensland LNP Government is drafting laws to make it illegal to lie to the state’s parliament after previous laws were changed to make it only a contempt of parliament.

In making comment on the law’s reenactment, Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the State Government would amend the Queensland Criminal Code to reenact laws repealed under the previous administration.

Bleijie said:

“In 2006, the previous state government repealed the section that made lying in Parliament a criminal offence.

At that time, the matter constituted not only a contempt of Parliament but under section 57 of the Criminal Code, knowingly giving false evidence before Parliament was a crime with a penalty of up to seven years’ jail”.

It is this type of political reform, aimed at reducing opportunities for political abuse while simultaneously strengthening our systems of government, that PNG needs in order to re-instill the public’s confidence in the robustness of our political system.

With O’Namah revealing its clogged up assembly line of apocryphal bills aimed at ‘improving democracy’, it should only be fair that the executive arm of government with support of the legislature take a look in the mirror and discuss how parliament can also be improved to enhance our democratic reputation.

Introducing such a bill would be one such positive step.

~ by Tavurvur on April 25, 2012.

One Response to “Should Lying in the Haus Tambaran be made a Criminal Offence?”

  1. Until you effectively isolate the problem you can’t effectively define a solution.
    I suggest there are many problems affecting the political leadership in every nation in the world. If you look at other nations either now or in previous times you will see the same problems arising as are currently evident in PNG.
    Why? Because PNG people are really no different to all the other people in the world. 2,500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Plato observed; ‘Those who are too intelligent to apply for public office end up being ruled by those who are not’.
    So might the only difference might be in the circumstances that exist at the time and not the people?
    If the current circumstances in PNG could be dissected, like the ancient Roman auguries who predicted the future by examining the entrails of animals, what might be revealed? What is the health of the obvious organs that can be discerned at first sight?
    Firstly there’s the heart of the nation. Some claim it’s a Melanesian heart yet ethnically, there are many different ethnicities that make up today’s PNG. Polynesian (Trobriands) and Micronesian (Manus) are just two examples. People along the Papuan coast might find they have some things in common with Malay traders going back hundreds of years. If one were to try and align the diversity of the Highlands with its myriad of cultures and languages, would there be a commonality emerging or the complete opposite?
    Then there’s the nation’s liver. A vital organ, but one none the less, notoriously famous for allegedly causing sour and caustic views on the world if it suffering from too much excess. Similar statements about ‘venting one’s spleen’ also seem to go with together with a ‘liverish’ view of the world. Could the fact that PNG’s liver is suffering from an excess of too many ‘good things’ be responsible for the increasingly pessimistic views being expressed?
    Talking of too many good things, the nation’s alimentary system is clearly overloaded with large amounts of political candy covered handouts that are becoming ‘difficult to swallow’ or if forcibly shoved down your throat and ingested, ‘just too hard to stomach’.
    Hmmm…. Perhaps that’s the reason why some are now inferring that everything coming from Parliament seems to turn to…… ummm….
    So what if the problem is not exclusively Melanesian, why search for a Melanesian answer?
    Perhaps that’s the first problem to isolate?

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