Election Laws Amendment Bill passes first hurdle in Parliament
The legislative amendment bill to make changes to election laws has successfully passed the first hurdle in Parliament yesterday (February 1, 2017) when it was tabled by the Prime Minister, Peter O'Neil, who is also the Minister responsible for PNG Electoral Commission Peter O'Neil. In the first required vote Parliament voted 74-14 for the changes. Only two members of the ruling PNC-led coalition government voted against the bill.
The Government-sponsored bill has three constitutional amendments:
- The first proposed amendment is to section 103 of the Constitution to increase the nomination fee for 2017 national election from K1000 to K10,000.
- Second amendment sought is amendment to section 209 of the Organic Law on Elections will increase the fee from the current K5000 to K20,000 that is required by an election petitioner to deposit as security for court.
- The third constitutional amendment sought is amendments to the Organic Law on Provincial and Local-Level Governments to delay the LLG elections by 12 months for councilors to complete their five-year term in office.
The Government managed to use it numerical strength to cross the first hurdle in passing the first vote 74-14 during this first required vote.
The second reading and final vote will be in three months time in April before the issue of writs for the 2017 National Election when the proposed fee hike would apply.
Prime Minister Peter O'Neil told Parliament that replacing the word three with 12 months in the third amendment gives the Electoral Commission the opportunity to defer the LLG elections.
"This is because in this term many of our councilors were elected for five years period in their term but unfortunately because of circumstances beyond our control in the conduct of the previous elections, they have only served four years by the time we are going to the national election."
Mr. O'Neil said the nomination fee increase would bring additional revenue to the Electoral Commission to help meet some of the election costs.
He said that part of this change would also see winning candidates refunded their nomination fees while the rest of the candidates' nomination fees would be non-refundable and paid to the Electoral Commission to meet election-related expenses.