Post Courier reported that two members of National Alliance Party, Member of Maprik John Simon and Member of Usino Bundi Jimmy Uguro tendered their resignation to join the O'Neill Government.
(In case anyone is wondering no I did not buy the papers - it was reported online). An issue I have been tracking for sometime.
What was not reported was that both flew to China with O'Neill Government delegation as members of Opposition. One can only assume it was all in the guise to induce them to join the Government ranks.
So does this mean Opposition is in a weaker position to change the O'Neill Government?
The short answer is No.
While many are of the view that a change in Government would mean Members in Government would cross over to elect an alternative Prime Minister from the Opposition this scenario is far from reality.
Any change in O'Neill Government would come from split in the Government coalition where they would rely on numbers (23) of the Opposition to decide who on that side would be the next Prime Minister.
So why did the two National Alliance Members cross over to join O'Neill well firstly in my view self interest and secondly dumb enough to believe whatever O'Neill promised them.
While I was aware Member for Maprik was desperate for join O'Neill Government for sometime he has been working behind the scenes to try and recruit other NA members to join him.
A single NA MP who has joined the ranks of PNC after the formation of Government commands little respect. However if you were able to recruit say 5 or 6 NA MPs then you can expect to be rewarded with a Ministry position and most possibly a cash incentive.
In the case of John Simon who did try his best to recruit a number of his fellow Sepik NA Members however what he didn't bank on was Sepik Haus Man and to break with Haus Man in Sepik custom is tabu. I suspect he will be returned to his old position as Deputy Speaker only to enjoy the perks and privileges that come with it.
However it appears he was only able to recruit a Madang MP, Member of Usino-Bundi Jimmy Uguro someone who appears to have lost his way. As the Member of Madang Open he can be assured by joining O'Neill he will be a one term Member and certain to lose his seat in 2022 Elections.
So lets run the numbers to what it all means:
Government Coalition
PNC (P. O'Neill) 43
PANGU (S. Basil) 15
URP (W. Duma) 12
PPP (J. Chan) 5
SDP (P. Parkop) 3
PNG Kantri Party (C. Haiveta) 2
PLP (P. Yama) 1
United Party (R. Pato) 1
PDM (P. Wingti) 1
Peoples Party (Tongamp) 1
ORD (F. Maneke) 1
THE Party (G. Kama) 1
PNG 1 Nation (Numu) 1
Independent (S. Akotai) 1
Total 88
Opposition Coalition
NA (P. Pruaitch) 11
PNGP (B. Namah) 3
PANGU - Opp (M. Mekere) 3
PNGNP (K. Kau) 2
MLP (A. Marat) 1
CRP (J. Lelang) 1
PMCP (G. Juffa ) 1
Allegiance (B. Kramer ) 1
Total 23
Cabinet or NEC is made up of 31 Members of Parliament,
20 of which are PNC Members where O'Neil holds two portfolios Bougainville Affairs and Sports and the remaining Ministers are divided as follows:
UP 1
Now the 18 month grace period expires on 2 February 2019, less than 7 months away.
Assuming the numbers stay relatively the same and there is a split in the Government leading up to the expiry of the 18 month grace period there will be one of two scenarios;
1) a change excluding PNC and die hard loyal O'Neill MPs.
2) a change including a faction of PNC
Without PNC including Party Leaders loyal to him for example Powes and Basil then if the remaining Members of Government joined up with Opposition they would make up a total 63 MPs - above the 56 required to move a successful vote of no confidence.
Lets say a faction of PNC 10 out of 43 broke away to form a new Government then the combined number would be as high as 73.
So the only issue left to decide would be who will be the alternative Prime Minister? An issue I'll discuss in the next article

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