The National Alliance has had a number of internal discussions since late last year on whether the party should remain in Government. Despite some dissenting views, the party caucus each time unanimously agreed to remain a member of the ruling Coalition. This position was reaffirmed yesterday at a meeting in Alotau.
“I have made it clear that as the leader of the National Alliance I would willingly move to the Opposition if that was the majority view of the party and Prime Minister O’Neill is wellaware of this,” PNG Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch said today.
“It is personally insulting that members of the Opposition are deeming the attendance of Members of Parliament here in Alotau to be the result of bribery or that MPs are being “kept in captivity”.
“In times like this it has been a PNG political tradition that such camps are organized so there can be full and frank discussions – in our case on Government strategies and policies, not forgetting that the Alotau Accord was signed here in 2012.”
Mr. Pruaitch said there are clear reasons for NA to support the
present Coalition Government and to oppose the no confidence vote in Parliament on Friday.
No confidence votes brought this nation to the brink of financial disaster
“Votes of no-confidence were pioneered by PPP founder Sir Julius Chan only a couple of years after independence. It has been a regular feature of PNG politics until 2002, by which time living standards were worse than they were in 1975.
“Is that a place we want to return to?” Mr. Pruaitch asked. “Policy certainty and policy stability should be traits that any good Government would want to pursue. That is what NA stands for.
“As a political party we were greatly saddened by the student protests and its consequential impacts.
Is this extra-parliamentary action going to be another blot on the workings of our democracy just like the 2011 parliamentary coup, in which most current Opposition members participated?
“Until today it pains me to think of the events that occurred when former Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, NA’s founding Foundation member, was thrown out of office. As the record stands today, that was an illegal act which was twice declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.”
Mr Pruaitch said NA had been adversely impacted by those events and it continues to be guided by a belief in the supremacy of the PNG Constitution and the rule of law.
“NA chose to break the political impasse by opting to go to the 2012 election and consequently accepted the mandate of the people. The rest is now history.
“As such we agreed to join the Coalition Government after a democratic process as expressed in our Constitution so we could play a constructive role in Government even though the new ruling party was a prime beneficiary of the 2011 political coup,” he said.
The vote of no confidence issue
NA will comply with the court ruling and will exercise its democratic right on the floor of Parliament on Friday.
“The laws on Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates in 2002 have brought a greater sense of political stability. Since then the leader of the political party that wins the most seats is called upon to form the next Coalition Government. No party has ever won enough seats to govern in its own right.
“The largest political parties in Opposition have only five or six MPs. Other parties have one or two MPs. Yet they expect to control the Government and claim to have the support of the entire population. This is a ridiculous proposition.”
Mr Pruaitch said NA remains within the Coalition because it is able to play a constructive role. “It is no secret that Government revenues have been constrained in recent years. Despite the reduced revenues Government has managed to maintain the core policies of tuition-free education and in making significant improvements to health services.
He added: “Major advances have been made in infrastructure development in Port Moresby, Lae, the Highlands Highway and elsewhere, which will stand the nation in good stead when global economic conditions improve.
Public will have their say in 2017 national election
“In exactly a year’s time a national election will be held. If there is genuine dissatisfaction, many political parties could pay a price. Until then the Government and people of PNG need to manage national affairs in the best way possible through implementation of rational policies and programs.
“A change of Government at this time will create a great deal of political instability, cause most Government programs to slowdown or come a halt and not augur well for the future.
“The National Alliance party continues to support Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the ruling Coalition Government because it is determined to preserve development gains made over the past decade and to prepare for the surge forward that the next Government will have the good fortune to manage.”