EDITORIAL- People, not MPs, should decide on extending life of parliament

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SO the Sogavare Government intends to extend the life of parliament from four to five years.

Its intention was revealed in a secret cabinet paper that was leaked to the public.

The leaked document confirmed cabinet had approved the proposal.

That decision was made on the following grounds:

  • Government needs ample time to fully implement its development plans and programs.
  • Government needs time to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Report and the Federal State Government System. It argued previous governments have swept these two issues under the carpet.
  • Conducting the national election in 2023, the same year the country is hosting the Pacific Games, will be costly. Delaying the election to 2024 will enable the Government to absorb the cost.

At the same time, cabinet agreed that a nation-wide consultation must first be carried out to get people’s views on the proposal.

In Parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Sogavare says there is no urgency in the policy to extend the life of parliament.

He said consultations would have to be carried out first before a final decision could be made.

To extend the life of parliament needs the support of 32 MPs of the 50-member House.

The Sogavare Government already has that number.

If it wants to have its way, it could have easily pushed the proposal through.

But it would be too dictatorial if it does that.

Extending the life of parliament is no small matter. It’s a decision that has wider implications, and one that should be left to the people to make.

While the Government has the duty and right to come up with policy matters, extending the life of parliament is not an issue that should be left to politicians alone to decide on.

It would be an absolute shame if the Government goes ahead and do that without consulting the people.

The most appropriate step to take in deciding on the issue is through a national referendum.