26 Nov 2009

Solomons government warned of dangers in political reform plans

8:33 pm on 26 November 2009

An expert in governance is warning of the dangers in planned political reforms in Solomon Islands.

The government of Dr Derek Sikua is promoting legislation that would have the leader of the largest party in the governing coalition appointed Prime Minister rather than Parliament voting for him or her.

It also wants to stop party hopping, by forcing MPs to remain with their parties for the term of a Parliament.

But Professor Graham Hassall, who heads the School of Governance at the University of the South Pacific, says the so called parties are simply loose groupings around dominant personalities and shouldn't be given constitutional recognition which is not reflected by society.

Professor Hassall says the changes would be contrary to the Westminster system's basic tenets of freedom of speech and association.

"To put the rights of parties in advance of the rights of Members of Parliament as representatives of constituencies, is to put things the wrong way round. This is an effort to use law to consolidate party strength where that party strength doesn't exist in social reality."