PNG leader's move on federalism yet to be fleshed out
PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has asked the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission to consider scrapping the Westminster system of government in favour of federalism.
A political scientist says a move by Papua New Guinea's prime minister to look at taking on a federal system of government could be aimed at preventing the fragmentation of the country.
Peter O'Neill has asked the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission to consider scrapping the Westminster system in favour of federalism whereby the country's leader is directly elected by the people.
Johnny Blades asked the National Research Institute's Dr Ray Anere if the implications of federalism have been discussed much in PNG.
RAY ANERE: I think it's limited mainly to certain circles in academia to try to look at alternative ways of political structure and organising government in Papua New Guinea with a view to strengthening democracy as much as political stability in the country. But it has not yet been taken up as part of an agenda of government or part of a public agenda as a policy discourse actively and seriously here within the last four or five years or so, particularly in the last couple of years when the issue of political stability came to the limelight in light of the political impasse in 2011 leading up to the 2012 elections. So it has not been taken up as a major policy issue in Papua New Guinea as yet.
JOHNNY BLADES: Peter O'Neill said this is something the country should look at because change could consolidate political stability, but he's made all these changes already to the motions of no-confidence provisions and really locked in government, his government. So would you be wondering what he's been trying to do here because we haven't even seen if these changes that he's already introduced are going to work? What's the need to push for this?
RAY ANERE: I don't think a lot of people have sort of... ventured to explore the federal issue in terms of his potential to ensure greater political stability, but I think perhaps the government, and the prime minister in particular, may have other considerations in mind, in particular one major event within the next couple of years - in 2015 - would be the referendum on Bougainville. There are also other problems and regions within Papua New Guinea pushing for greater autonomy, either regional autonomy or provincial autonomy. So there could be those sort of considerations. And in the event that this demands to the extreme that could lead to a further political fragmentation of the country it would be those kind of scenarios that perhaps certain leaders, or this government and this prime minister, are taking into account, and perhaps in light of those scenarios federalism would be considered as perhaps a vehicle that would allow for greater autonomy or degree of independence on the part of provinces, without having the need to cause a political fragmentation of the country.
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