Martyn Namorong hints at a future in politics
Courting trouble in Papua New Guinea

G-G won't sign off on emergency – heads overseas

BY EOIN BLACKWELL
AAP

PAPUA NEW GUINEA'S GOVERNOR-GENERAL has washed his hands of both sides of the nation's political dispute, with his office saying he will not sign any documents until a government is formed after the election.

A senior member of the office of Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio says the head of state has refused to sign any documents presented by parliamentary elected prime minister Peter O'Neill or from his court-appointed rival for the top job, Sir Michael Somare.

The spokesman says the governor-general has also refused to sign an instrument recalling parliament for a special sitting last week in which the government voted for a state of emergency in three provinces including the capital, Port Moresby.

"No documents have been received by the governor-general and that includes the state of emergency (declared by parliament on Friday)," the spokesman, who declined to be named, told AAP today.

He said Sir Michael Ogio had refused to sign the document approving Friday's special sitting of parliament at which MPs voted for a state of emergency.

"He received that document but he did not sign it," the spokesman said, answering "negative" when asked the question two more times.

"Go to the election. That was advised to everybody from the beginning, go to the election."

The spokesman said the governor-general was seeking legal advice.

Constitutional lawyer Ray Williams told AAP that parliament could not be convened without the consent of the governor-general.

"The instrument must be signed by the governor-general, otherwise it is not an instrument at all," Mr Williams said.

"In terms of the sitting itself, if it is not approved by the governor-general, in effect it would not be constitutional to do that."

AAP has learned that Sir Michael Ogio will depart PNG tomorrow for Britain to participate in the Queen's Birthday celebrations.

According to protocol, Speaker Jeffrey Nape will become acting governor-general until Sir Michael returns on 12 June.

Comments

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Murray Bladwell

It appears to me that there is an elephant in the room - his name is Jeffrey Nape.

Given the past eccentric behaviour of the speaker and the legal act of handing him the keys to government house and the protocol position of governor-general while Sir Michael Ogio is absent overseas is cause for great concern.

It presents the very real option of him granting the O'Neill government the signed instrument they need to recall parliament (this might be against legal advice - but that has not been heeded in the past).

The instrument once issued could be used to delay the election on the floor of a reconvened parliament, or am I just being too cynical.

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