18 Dec 2013

PNG Speaker stands firm despite cabinet opposition

6:32 am on 18 December 2013

The speaker of parliament in Papua New Guinea says the cabinet has no power to stop him removing cultural artefacts from parliament building.

There's been a public outcry after Theo Zurenuoc ordered the removal of carved heads from above the entrance to parliament and a large totem structure inside the legislature.

Furthermore, members of the national executive council have voiced outrage over the removal of the artefacts.

And the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has asked Mr Zurenuoc to suspend the plans and provide more awareness about his renovation plans for parliament.

But the Speaker says the renovation plans will soon resume.

"You must under the separation of powers in the Westminster system of government. The Prime Minister cannot come and tell the speaker what to do. He can only ask me and discuss with me on what things I should do and we can come to an agreement. And we have agreed that I will suspend these plans until such time that it is right for us to start again."

The speaker of parliament in Papua New Guinea, Theo Zurenuoc.