11 Nov 2004

PNG MP causes uproar by taking speaker's chair in parliament

2:51 pm on 11 November 2004

Chaos in Papua New Guinea's Parliament reached unprecedented heights yesterday when Manus MP Charlie Benjamin hijacked the Speaker's Chair.

Speaker Jeffery Nape had suspended Parliament and vacated the Chair moments earlier after a rowdy exchange with the Opposition after he had attempted to have Milne Bay Governor Tim Neville removed from the Opposition frontbench to a seat pointed out by the Chair.

Attendants' attempts to have Mr Benjamin removed from the Speaker's chair resulted in Markham MP Andrew Baing and Mr Neville surrounding part of the Chair and telling the attendants to leave him alone.

Government MPs led by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare sat stunned for several moments before voicing concern.

The Post Courier reports that Mr Nape returned later and asked Mr Benjamin - who had already vacated the Speaker's chair several minutes earlier - to apologise to the Chair.

Mr Benjamin said he was upset over the speaker's inconsistencies and that he might apologise later.

Mr Nape suspended him for the rest of yesterday's session and also today's session

Meanwhile, opposition Leader Peter O'Neill sent a letter to Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare seeking his support to oust Mr Nape as Speaker.