By EDDIE OSIFELO
OPPOSITION Leader, Matthew Wale is urging government to consult with the people first before extending the life of Parliament from four to five years.
Speaking in response to the Speech of Throne in Parliament on Wednesday, Wale states, “let me just say that as a matter of principle, it is important that on a matter concerning the life of parliament itself, there must be a clear and direct mandate from the people.”
He said this is only possible from a general election.
“Limited consultations that merely respond to predetermined questions and data would be inadequate to give a mandate for such a matter.
“So ideally, this matter should be taken to the electorate at the next general elections for a mandate,” he said.
Wale said if the government wishes to proceed before the elections, at the very least it should consult widely – although as “I said, this is inadequate on a matter of such gravity”.
He said and the change should not affect this parliament – it should come in the next one.
Furthermore, Wale said this is a policy position the Solomon Islands Democratic Party (SIDP) took to the last general elections.
“I do not recall seeing any other party seek a mandate on this matter.
“We must avoid taking unilateral decisions on matters that should involve the people. Let us respect the place of the electorate in these kinds of decisions,” he said.
Moreover, Wale said the Prime Minister stated that the need for constitutional reforms and the Pacific Games 2023 form the basis for this proposal to extend the life of parliament.
“I would suggest that if the games are an issue, that the games be postponed by a year to allow the elections to take place.
“Even the Olympics has been postponed, and in the current circumstances, I don’t think that anyone would begrudge us postponing the Pacific Games,” he said.
Wale said further, ongoing reform is the work of parliament and cannot be grounds for extending the life of the House itself.
“I will say more on this matter when the proposal has been finalized and is brought to the House for deliberation.
“The matter is of such gravity that it is important to caution the government right at the outset about it,” he said.
Cabinet had already approved the move to extend the life of Parliament from 4-5 years in leaked cabinet paper.
It will need two thirds of the 50 MPs to amend the Constitution to extend the life of Parliament.