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.
One pond is too easy to pollute. The events of this week have shaken my belief in genuine democracy. This is no longer just enough #PNG—
(@Tavurvur) April 06, 2012
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.
“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.