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PM Albanese spoke to a uniquely powerful parliament

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Friday, 13 January 2023


On Thursday Anthony Albanese became the first foreign leader to address the PNG national parliament.

It was a significant honour for Australia. It signals real progress in the bi-lateral relationship which the new government has done well on.

What might have been known to him is that the PNG Parliament is a uniquely powerful legislature.

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While it is based on the Westminster model it departs significantly from the Australian Parliament.

Only the parliament can elect, and remove, a Prime Minister. The Governor General, representing the King, has no reserve powers.

The parliament elects the Governor General - a power it will exercise again next week.

It is true that the influence of the parliament is diminished somewhat when a Prime Minister enjoys a large majority.

That is the case today with James Marape able to count on at least 95 members in a 121 member house.

But that can change rapidly. Five years ago Peter O'Neill had a similar majority. Within two years he was removed from office.

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I began working for the parliament in 1978 as chief advisor to the new opposition leader, Iambakey Okuk.

I was surprised at how neglected the parliament, and its members, were during the colonial period which only ended in 1975.

It operated out of a rundown former hospital. Member's facilities were poor. They had no electoral offices, or staff.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Wall CSM CBE is a Brisbane Political Consultant and has served as Advisor to the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu Prime Minister 1988-1992 and Speaker 1994-1997.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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