SUPREME COURT TO HEAR O’NEILL’S APPLICATION TODAY
By Hon. Bryan Kramer, MP – KRAMER REPORT | 03 December 2020.
At 9:30am this morning, a five man bench of the Supreme Court commenced hearing the substantive matters concerning the Supreme Court Application by former Prime Minister and Member for Ialibu-Pangia Open, Peter O’Neill.
What is the substantive matter?
When a party files a case before the Court they are required to state the wrong they allege has been committed, and what action or court orders they want the Court to make.
What are the substantive (main) issues concerning O’Neill’s case?
He is asking the Supreme Court to interpret the following:
1) The decision of the Speaker of Parliament to overrule the decision of the Deputy Speaker and Parliament to adjourn Parliament to 1 December 2020;
The rationale here is that the decision of the Speaker breached Section 59 of Constitution (Natural Justice – being fair) by failing to provide proper notice to Members of Parliament, particularly those who travelled to Vanimo.
2) Passing of the 2021 Budget without proper and meaningful authorization of Parliament, breaching Section 209 of the Constitution;
3) The decision of the Speaker and Parliament of 17 November 2020 to adjourn Parliament to 20 April 2020.
If the Supreme Court interprets the above decisions as inconsistent with the Constitution, O’Neill is then asking the Court to make the following orders or declarations:
1) That the Speaker’s decision of 16 November 2020 to overrule the decision of the Deputy Speaker and Parliament on 13 November 2020 and convene Parliament on 17 November 2020 at 10am was unconstitutional, invalid and ineffective;
2) Therefore the meeting of Parliament on 17 November and all the decisions made were unconstitutional, invalid and ineffective;
3) The passing of the 2021 Budget was in breach of Section 209 of Constitution and therefore unconstitutional, invalid and ineffective;
4) The decision to adjourn Parliament to 20 April 2021 is unconstitutional, invalid and ineffective;
5) The decision on 17 November 2020 to change the Private Members Bill is unconstitutional, invalid and ineffective;
6) The decision of Parliament on 13 November 2020 to adjourn Parliament to 1st December 2020 was correct; and therefore Speaker is to convene meeting of Parliament on 1 December 2020.
Obviously order 6 is no longer possible. O’Neill may instead ask the Court order the Speaker of Parliament to convene Parliament in seven days.
For the Supreme Court, the threshold issue will be whether there was a clear constitutional procedural error or breach.
Firstly, was there a clear error in the decision to adjourn Parliament to 1 December 2020.
Secondly, was there error in the Speaker overruling the decision of the Deputy Speaker and Parliament.
Thirdly, was there an error in the Speaker determining that Parliament would continue to sit on 17 November 2020 at 10am.
And, finally, was there an error in the passing of the 2021 Budget.
After hearing arguments from O’Neill’s lawyer, the Court will ask the Attorney-General and the Speaker’s lawyer to present their case or arguments.
O’Neill’s lawyer will be given an opportunity to respond, and the Court will then adjourn. The Court will typically reserve its ruling until early next week, to provide time to write up its judgement.