Wale on extension of Parliament life - Solomon Star News

Wale on extension of Parliament life

22 April 2021
Matthew Wale.

OUTSPOKEN Leader of the Opposition and Member of Parliament (MP) for Aoke Langalanga Mathew Wale says it is important that on a matter concerning the life of parliament itself there must be a clear and direct mandate from the people.

He made these sentiments in his response to Speech from the Throne in Parliament, Wednesday.

Recently Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare informed parliament of the recent Cabinet decision to extend the life of parliament from 4 to 5 years, although this is yet subject to further discussions with key offices in government. 

From the outset, Wale said as a matter of principle, it is important that on a matter concerning the life of parliament itself there must be a clear and direct mandate from the people.

“This is only possible from a general election. Limited consultations that merely respond to predetermined questions and data would be inadequate to give a mandate for such a matter.

“So ideally, this matter should be taken to the electorate at the next general elections for a mandate,” he added.

Wale said if the government wishes to proceed before the elections, at the very least it should consult widely – although as I said, “this is inadequate on a matter of such gravity. 

“And the change should not affect this parliament – it should come in the next one,” he added.

Wale also added that this is a policy position the SIDP took to the last general elections and he did not recall seeing any other party seek a mandate on this matter. 

He said it's important not to avoid taking unilateral decisions on matters that should involve the people. 

“Let us respect the place of the electorate in these kinds of decisions,” he said.

It was understood that Sogavare stated that the need for constitutional reforms and the Pacific Games 2023 form the basis for this proposal to extend the life of parliament. 

However, Wale suggests that if the games are an issue, then the games should be postponed by a year to allow the elections to take place. 

“Even the Olympics has been postponed, and in the current circumstances, I don’t think that anyone would begrudge us postponing the Pacific Games. 

“Further, ongoing reform is the work of parliament and cannot be grounds for extending the life of the House itself,” he added.

Wale said he will say more on this matter when the proposal has been finalized and is brought to the House for deliberation. 

“The matter is of such gravity that it is important to caution the government right at the outset about it,” he added.

Newsroom Honiara