Polye and Duma remain committed to PNG govt despite sackings
Two political parties whose leaders have been sacked from key roles by Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill remain committed to the ruling coalition.
Two political parties whose leaders have been sacked from key roles by Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill appear to be still committed to the ruling coalition.
Mr O'Neill this week sacked Treasurer Don Polye, the leader of the Triumph, Heritage and Empowerment party which is the second biggest party in the coalition.
The Prime Minister last month sacked the leader of the United Resources Party, William Duma, as Minister for Petroleum and Energy.
Johnny Blades asked Paul Barker of PNG's Institute of National Affairs why these two prominent MPs have decided to stick with the government.
PAUL BARKER: Probably the parties made it plain they didn't wish to be moving across to the opposition so the party leader basically has to hang in where the party wishes to stand. So if you want to be in government as a party - and most people do want to be in government - and if you want to not be deprived of the party benefits or the funding, for example the DSIP, the district grants, it's better to stay on the government side and hope that maybe the issue that's of concern at the time is something which will pass and that one of your other senior members will get one of the portfolios and you can share the party influence and one way or another your own individual role.
JOHNNY BLADES: And of course there's the grace period on the motions of no-confidence, which runs for 30 months initially after the election, in which case we've almost got a year still to run, but that in fact is being challenged in the courts, that could be changed, which I guess could take it back to the earlier eighteen month mark wouldn't it?
PB: That's right yes, and in the last year before the election there's another one year, so if the government of the day plays its cards prudently, it can virtually eliminate the possibility of a vote of no-confidence during the entire sixty months of a parliament. But there's a reference in the Supreme Court to raise the constitutionality of the extension to thirty months.
JB: So members of O'Neill's coalition could theoretically move sides if the constitutional amendments on the amendments were revoked by the Supreme Court?
PB: Yeah, in theory that could happen...
JB: But O'Neill's a very savvy leader and I don't imagine he would have done this [the sackings] if he thought it was going to cost him his place. But these could be two powerful enemies he has made?
PB: With some of them it was probably an uncomfortable relationship anyway, but often in PNG, it's an uncomfortable relationship between a coalition. Clearly Polye was one of the strong men, certainly a major power player. But what you have I think with Duma and Polye was two leaders who for quite some time had demonstrated that they wanted to be Prime Minister and not just a senior minister. And perhaps it's the old case of... is it better to have someone shouting from the inside or shouting from the outside? And perhaps lately the Prime Minister decided that it was easier to have them shouting on the outside particularly as they may not decide to shout because their party members will want to remain within his government. Plus there's always that fluidity that perhaps they could come back or that even in some cases it's only a temporary arrangement.
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