LEADER of Opposition Hon Matthew Wale has raised disappointment on the lack of commitment by the government on the amendments to the Provincial Government Act and the Electoral Act.
Speaking in Parliament this week on the Honiara City Council (Amendment) Bill 2023, Hon Wale said Parliament was informed that the HCC Amendment Bill 2023 would be followed by amendments to both the Provincial Government Act and the Electoral Act to enable the so-called synchronization of elections.
However, he said unfortunately there was no mention of any such reforms to come in amendments to the Political Integrity Act.
“This too is an important part of our electoral & political system, and it is clear its current state is simply terrible and is in desperate need of substantive change,” he said.
Hon Wale said a lot of work and consultations have been done on the proposed changes to the current law.
Of course, he said it requires political will to make substantive changes to the PPI, which should also mean constitutional changes to eliminate defection.
“I would like the government to clarify where these proposals are and when we should expect to see them in the House,” he said.
However, the Opposition Leader said he is keeping an open mind to the possibility that more substantive and consequential reforms needed to strengthen our electoral and governance system are yet to come.
“I am disappointed that halfway through the year we are told of only the three amendments that will affect the upcoming elections,” he said.
Hon Wale recalled that one of the main excuses used for the extension of the life of Parliament was that there were very important electoral reforms that this government wanted to complete before elections, and therefore needed the extra 7 months to do them.
He said this and other two announced Bills will have consequential effect on the administration of elections, but will not have much effect on political governance which is by far the most urgent and strategic need in our system of government.
With regards to this Bill, he said the BLC did not have the benefit of the other two Bills relating to elections and so was deprived of the benefit of an overall perspective of the proposals.
“The proposals contained in this Bill are improvements on existing law. However, there are still some policy options that ought to have been considered in this Bill. At the very least, in its current form, the Bill should be amended to achieve greater clarity,” he said.