Dear Editor – Recently I heard Hon. Peter Kenilorea Jr being interviewed on the radio about a suggestion that the Government wants to extend the life of the current Parliament by a further 12 months.
The reason being that the next General Election is due in 2023, the same year as the Pacific Games.
The life of Parliament is fixed by the Constitution at 4 years. Any change to the Constitution would require a majority of two thirds of all MPs.
Leaving aside the question of whether a 2 week sporting event should ever be grounds for a major upheaval of the democratic process, there is a more important and fundamental question and that is whether it would be constitutional to extend the life of Parliament part way through its 4 year term.
If Parliament passed an amendment to the Constitution during this session which says that future terms of Parliament shall be for five years, then it would be legal but to purport to extend the present term for another year is surely an entirely different matter and I question whether it would be constitutional.
Section 73 (3) of the Constitution states that “Parliament, unless sooner dissolved under subsection (1) of this section, shall continue for four years from the date of the first sitting of Parliament after any general election and shall then stand dissolved.”
The 2019 General Election was fought on that basis. MPs were elected for four years. Everyone understood that at the time. Now it is being proposed that the rules be changed mid-term. It’s like athletes being told half way through a 5,000 meter race that they now have to run 10,000 meters.
You should not be allowed to change the rules once the race has started.