BY DAPHNE WANI
The Opposition was yesterday given the green light to file a motion of vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Peter O’Neill whenever it wants.
This follows a Supreme Court ruling yesterday.
The court said that there were no prejudices against the referrer of the special reference on the vote of no confidence, Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Alfred Manase in seeking an adjournment of the stay application.
This allows for the opposition to pursue its agenda to move the vote when Parliament resumes on May 28.
The Supreme Court yesterday refused an attempt by Mr Manase’s lawyers John Griffin QC and Tiffany Twivey from Twivey Lawyers, Ron Webb SC and Geoff Purvey from Young and Williams for the Speaker to have the stay application further adjourned to Wednesday, May 29.
This resulted in the withdrawal of the stay application by Mr Manase filed on May 15.
Mr Griffin submitted that there were reasons his client believes that a fresh notice of the vote of no confidence motion by the members of the opposition may be filed before the next parliament sitting on May 28.
He then asked the court to adjourn the stay application to Wednesday, May 29.
The Supreme Court comprising Justice Collin Makail, Justice Derek Hartshorn and Justice Oagile Key Dingake dismissed the application, saying there were no prejudices against Mr Manase.
In the ruling delivered yesterday, the court also concluded that the minister had no factual basis on his application to adjourn but his application was based on speculations.
Justice Dingake said that the parties are not basing their application on factual grounds but on speculative analysis of events unfolding after the notice of motion for the vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister was withdrawn earlier this week.
Ms Twivey said outside of the court yesterday that it was “a good decision” but they would file a new stay application in the event that a vote of no confidence was concerned.
Government lawyers said last night: “The Supreme Court did not refuse the Attorney-General’s stay application. The Attorney-General withdrew the application as there was nothing left to stay as the VONC motion had been withdrawn by Pruaitch.”
Ms Twivey, however, raised concerns in the delay by the court registry in obtaining a hearing date for the substantive case.
“There has been a difficulty in getting the Supreme Court registry to list the reference consisting of the amendment to the questions in the special constitutional reference before the Supreme Court.”
Justice Makail had asked why there was no progress on the draft reference book by the referrer and why it had taken more than four months to get a listing date.
A date of hearing of the motions of amendments of the reference relating to the substantive matter filed by former minister for justice and attorney-general Davis Steven on December 3 last year had not been obtained from the registry.