By Gary Hatigeva
LEADER of the Official Opposition and Member of Parliament for East Malaita, Manasseh Maelanga has hit out at critics and claims over the issue leading to lack of quorums in Parliament that were directed at his group, as the main culprits.
Early this year, parliament experienced shortage in numbers at certain points of meetings, even into deliberations of crucial bills, where they were dragged for weeks, and this included the National Budget.
Some even faced deferral and adjournments, which were said to have affected the projections in the timeframes that have been scheduled for the introduction of bills including their passage.
The situation were said to have worsened in the second set of sittings since it resumed over two weeks ago, and this has got members of the public questioning the integrity of members, whom many thought, are avoiding their major mandatory responsibility, and that is, to attend parliament meetings.
In its resumption for the final segments in all proceedings of the Whistleblowers Protection Bill (Act), Parliament through the Committee of the Whole House, was again forced to delay the start of its afternoon session, which the government feared, could have caused further delays to the line up of their proposed legislations.
The Whistleblowers Protection Act was passed according to anticipation for the house to get over and done with yesterday, and have the Strata Titles Bill laid for its Second Reading, with the start of debates, but could not happen because parliament was adjourned straight after the passing of the Whistleblowers Protection Legislation.
The anticipation was to have the bill go through the Committee Stage today and tomorrow, so it is completed and can be put for its third reading, before Friday.
After a waiting period, Parliament resumed only to receive frustrations of members from the government bench, who blamed the opposition and independent groups for deliberately missing out on sittings.
Speaking out on this, Member of Parliament for East Guadalcanal and Minister for Mines and Energy, Bradley Tovosia suggested and claimed that those from the opposing side of the House were have intentionally been sitting outside and notably chose to stall the resumption of parliament meetings.
He questioned whether the issue of quorum is applied to just members from the government side, saying that, it seems according to what’s been revealed that the regulation is targeting those from the government benches.
“The way things are going now is, they are targeting us from this side (government), but this is what’s actually happening. Most of those from the other side of the house are sitting outside, and when you tell them of the issue of quorum, they would say you people are the government,” the government Minister expressed.
He then questioned whether the obligation to be in parliament belongs to the government alone or all 50 members of Parliament.
He however stressed that the onus of making sure parliament is given the will to seat over all agenda laid before it without any interference or issue of having to be deferred or adjourned.
But in his respond to the claims, the Opposition Leader came out furious about the claims saying quorum is a standing order of parliament that is applied to all MPs, and there was no need to point fingers at each other over it.
He said attending parliament supposed to be part of each leader’s commitment and it is an individual choice and should not be blamed on a whole group, as even some of those from the government side are not showing that commitment.
Also sharing similar sentiments, Leader of the Independent Group and MP for Northeast Guadalcanal, Dr Derick Sikua stressed that the question of quorum is usually raised from the opposition and independent side of the house.
He added that the conventional practice is, when parliament deals with government bills, it is the government side that should ensure they maintain their numbers in the chambers.
He further added that all members have the same responsibility but more so, if the government want to pass bills and knowing they have the number, it must make sure it maintains its numbers.
The Independent MP however pointed out that because of the expression showed in the lack of commitments from the government especially its members, which has sadly reflected on their side of the house.
The public has however reminded members that they have no reasons to miss parliament as that is their number one mandate given to them when elected and they should all ensure during sitting schedules, their attendance is paramount.
A lot have added that whatever programmes MPs have, should allow for officials within ministries or constituency offices to take care off so they stay committed and focussed on these important meetings especially, when dealing with proposed or amendments in legislations.