THE Parliamentary Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) has postponed the hearing into the Constitution (Amendment) (Electoral Reform) Bill 2018 to further notice.
This came after the legal draftsmen of the Prime Minister Office are still to complete the last pages of the Electoral Reform Bill 2018.
Appearing before the BLC in Parliament on Wednesday, chief technical advisor for the Fundamental Reform Program, within the Office of the Prime Minister, Moses Saitala said they should complete the Bill this week and give it to Cabinet next Thursday.
Saitala said they decided to bring the Constitutional Amendment first because of the tight time-frame to deal with budget and other bills.
However, Chairman of BLC, Matthew Wale said it is important for the Committee to get an overview of the Bill before looking into the Constitutional Amendment.
Wale said, it’s like putting a cart before the horse.
As such, he agreed to postpone the hearing until the Electoral Bill is ready for deliberation.
The primary reason of the Bill is to amend the Constitution in relation to electoral matters.
The objects and reasons of the Bill are:
1. to provide an additional requirement that a candidate for election be a registered elector
2. to allow an Act to prescribe the term “ordinarily resident”;
3. To provide for a 12 month stand down period for a member of the Electoral Commission or staff to involved in the election process if he or she intends to stand as a candidate.
4. To increase of membership of the Electoral Commission to 5 members who will also deal with registration of political parties currently undertaken by the Political Parties Commission under the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014.
5. to establish a new position of Commissioner of Elections as the administrative head of the office responsible for elections and will also act as the Registrar for Political Parties under the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014.
Stakeholders who appeared before BLC yesterday were Secretary to Prime Minister, Fred Rohorua, Freddie Bosoboe (Electoral Office staff), George Palua (Permanent Secretary of Homes Affairs), Moses Saitala, legal draftsman of OPM and Attorney General Chambers
The BLC members include chairman Wale, Leader of Opposition, Manasseh Maelanga and MP for Shortland Islands, Christopher Laore.
Meanwhile, there are eight bills that are still before the House to consider. These include seven outstanding Bills from 2016 and 2017:
1. The Anti-Corruption Bill 2017
2. The Constitution (Amendment) (Dual Citizenship) Bill 2017
3. The Citizenship Bill 2017
4. The Strata Titles Bill 2017
5. The Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017
6. The Legal Profession Bill 2017
7. The Whistle-blowers Protection Bill 2016; and
One new one, The Constitution (Amendment) (Electoral Reform) Bill 2018, for 2018.
The 7th meeting of the 10th Parliament will commence on Wednesday the 28th of February 2018.
By EDDIE OSIFELO