SPEAKER Jeffery Nape has reversed his decision to disqualify member for Pomio Paul Tiensten, The National reports.
Last Tuesday, Nape took the unilateral step to sack Tiensten as the member for Pomio, saying he had missed three consecutive parliament sessions.
The decision created uproar in the house which then forced the speaker to adjourn the meeting to the next day.
Last Wednesday, Tiensten came into the chamber and took his seat before parliament resumed but was urged by members to leave as they did not want the Gender, Equality and Participation and the Hela and Jiwaka bills to be disrupted.
When parliament resumed at 10am last Friday, Nape said his interpretation of section 104(2)(b) to disqualify Tiensten was correct.
But, he said, Hansard records of the adjournments contradicted his decision and, after consulting his lawyers, decided to withdraw his earlier decision to disqualify Tiensten.
“I do not want to keep the member in court for a long time. I do not want to keep the people of Pomio in suspense but allow him to perform his duties,” Nape said.
Tiensten said later the speaker did not have the power to disqualify him as a member of parliament.
He said it was the National Court that had the jurisdiction to do so upon recommendation from parliament. “Not even the speaker or the parliament has any authority to dismiss any member,” he said.
He said he only missed two parliament sessions, Sept 6 and Sept 20, while Aug 9 had been the continuation of the Aug 2 sitting.
He said Nape had failed to check the clerk’s records and never gave him the opportunity to respond as stipulated under the same section of the law he used to “disqualify” him.
He said he was not surprised by the speaker’s decision as he was informed of the decision last Thursday, a decision
which he could have made at 2pm on Thursday after discussions with his (Tiensten’s) lawyer.
“I never thought my political career was going to be short-circuited by the parliament but, anyway, I am thankful that I am able to continue my duties,” he said