-Opposition calls for re-draft to Honiara City Bill after all stakeholders say they were not consulted

Opposition is calling out the government over a Bill which appears to be rushed and not properly and completely drafted.

Leader of Opposition Matthew Wale says all stakeholders that appeared before the Bills & Legislations Committee were not consulted on the proposals Honiara City (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2023.

Mr Wale said the stakeholders have expressed disappointment.

They include the Law Reform Commission, the RSIPF, the Corrections Service, the Magistracy, Women’s groups, & Taxi Operators Association.

He said the Law Reform Commission proposed that perhaps the Bill be amended to remove Divisions 4 & 5.

The Bill has five divisions.

Divisions 1 & 2 enable infringement notices to be issued and fixed penalties. Division 3 empowers law enforcement officers and provides for the conduct of their work. Division 4 empowers detention of suspects by the City Council. Division 5 provides for the prosecution of offences, where an accused has not taken advantage of the administrative penalty scheme.

“Given the short time to the Games, the pressure on resources, the need for recruitment and appropriate training, it is sensible to leave the functions in Divisions 4 & 5 to the Corrections & the RSIPF and that the City Council collaborate with them closely,” Wale said.

The Opposition Leader said the proposals in those two divisions are too far-reaching to be rushed upon the City Council.

He said the removal of Divisions 4 & 5 should not affect the City’s efforts towards the Games.

In terms of penalties standardisation, Wale expressed that the penalties proposed in the Bill are inconsistent with the general scheme in our various legislations, where the base is 5,000 penalty units and is equivalent to six months imprisonment.

“In this Bill 2,000 units is 6 months, 20,000 units equivalent is 5 years (instead of 2yrs); 50,000 units equivalent is 10 years – 100,000 units would be the revised equivalent. This is the same issue for the other penalties as well. This is probably just a problem with the drafters not having recourse to the standardised penalties scheme in our laws. I hope there is such a tool, readily accessible to drafters,” he said.

Wale said it is likely also a result of the lack of wider consultations, which would pick up on this important issue.

He said detention and prosecution of offences are better left to existing institutions in our criminal justice system to handle.

“An amended Bill ought to be limited to granting powers for the issue of infringement notices and set penalties for offences. Therefore, it would be prudent to withdraw the Bill and redraft it for submission to Parliament again soon,” he said.


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