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Supreme Court rejects Obudsman Commision's application, Parliament to decide on election fees

PNG  Prime Minister  Peter O’Neill   has welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court that will enable Parliament to decide if election nomination and petitioning fees will be adjusted.

The Supreme Court has refused the application by the Ombudsman Commission for an injunction that would have prevented Parliament from debating, deliberating and voting on National Election Nomination Fees and Petition Filing Fees.

PM O’Neill said the proposed amendments will strengthen democratic process to enable true contenders to stand for elections, and will help prevent the malicious use of the court system after elections.
“The proposed changes are commonsense and the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court of Justice has made its ruling,” the Prime Minister said following the decision.
"It is now up to the Parliament to debate and then to vote on this issue, as is the democratic process of our country.
“Ours is a robust democracy, a democracy where the rule of law is respected and protected, and this has been reinforced by the Supreme Court decision.

“The proposed amendments to electoral laws will mark an important point in the ongoing evolution of the electoral process in our country.
“A natural evolution of any economy is that prices and costs will increase over time.
“Election nomination fees have not changed since 1992, while incomes have increased since 1992, consumer prices have increased since 1992 and it is only natural that other costs increase over a quarter of a century.

“Too often we have seen our electoral process manipulated and distorted by people who are not seeking election, but are playing a strategic game to manipulate the outcome for other candidates.
“We want serious contenders to stand for elections, men and women who are serious about representing their people and serving the collective interest of the nation.
“Then after elections are declared, too often in the past, we have seen malicious challenges to results, not based on real evidence and not based on true points of law.

“While these are typically thrown out of court, numerous baseless election challenges have tied up court time, interrupted Parliamentary process and cost taxpayer money.
“With the proposed reforms, when an aggrieved party has a sound case to contest, they will be able to do so and back this up with an appropriate surety.

“Ultimately, the country wants to see a Parliament elected this year that has a five-year term uninterrupted by the misuse of court processes.
“Further to this, the requirement for more appropriate candidate funding will help to offset the high cost of conducting elections in the country.”

The Supreme Court Decision on the proposed law to amend Section 103(2) of the Constitution and Sections 87 & 209 of the Organic Law on National and Provincial and Local-Level Government Elections, was handed down by the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court of Justice on Friday, 3rd March 2017.
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