Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bill on reserved seats goes back to cabinet

THE National Executive Council will meet today to make amendments to the bill to have 22 reserve seats for women in parliament, The National reports.

Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu said there were discrepancies in the Equality and Participation Bill which did not go down well with some members of parliament, who had refused to support the proposed legislation.

Dame Carol said the reserved seats for women would come from the 22 provincial electorates under the new arrangements before cabinet for endorsement before tabling in parliament.

She said previously, the proposal to have one provincial electorate with two seats did not go down well with the provincial governors.

Dame Carol said the alternate would be two provincial electorates, one for the governor and the reserved seat for a woman in parliament.

“It is the same boundary, and I know it sounds crazy, but one provincial electorate is for a woman and she will become an ordinary MP with no district support improvement programme (DSIP) grants.

“If the government) does not give women the K2 million discretionary funds, do not worry about it,” she said.

“Some people are saying it will cost so much, but, the cost is for salary and two staff; only a few millions but we can afford that.

“We are not going into parliament for money but to provide the gender balance and to speak on issues affecting the nation as women.”

More than 100 women leaders, attired in PNG-coloured meri blouses and laplaps fronted up at the parliament front gates to drum up support at lunchtime yesterday.

Dame Carol met the women and asked them to be patient and wait for another day or two as the bill would have to be amended and brought to cabinet.

“Be patient, we have waited a long time for this and we can wait for another one or two days.”

Dame Carol also told the women that some people had wanted to adjourn parliament after the budget but the prime minister had declined.

She said proper processes and procedures must be followed as some clever lawyer may challenge the bill in court.

“We do not want to pass the bill in a hurry and, later, being declared null and void by the courts. We have to do it properly.”

She said the eyes of Pacific Island countries were zeroing in on PNG as what was happening here could also be done in other Pacific Island countries to get reserve seats for women.





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