Two MPs suspended

The Speaker of Parliament suspended two Members of Parliament this week because they had called on Government MPs to vacate the house at two parliamentary sittings.

Speaker, Gracia Shadrack, suspended the Leader of Government Business and the Government Whip under Parliamentary Standing Orders.

Mr Shadrack said he also suspended the two members because they had put forward a motion for his removal.

“Following the disturbance of parliamentary business, I now ask the Leader of Government Business and the Government Whip to leave this house,” Mr Shadrack told the Parliament.

However, after a small break in Parliament, requests from the Prime Minister and apologies from the two MPs, the speaker allowed the two back into Parliament.

The Opposition has called on the Government MPs who walked out of two parliamentary sittings this week not to take their entitlements for the sittings they did not attend.

The Government MPs staged the walk out to attend what they said was an urgent court case in the Supreme Court between the Government and the Speaker of Parliament.

The Leader of the Opposition, Ralph Regenvanu, said that the MPs’ absence in Parliament had been “a waste of tax payers’ money” and he urged the speaker to consider the matter seriously.

“Mr Speaker, on Tuesday, and again this Wednesday, the majority of the Members of Parliament on the Government side walked out of Parliament without your permission,” Mr Regenvanu said.

“I am asking you to implement article standing order 96, 5 and cancel their entitlements, their allowances for the two parliamentary sittings.”

The Leader of Government Business, Anatole Hymak, said the Government MPs could not be at the parliamentary sitting on Wednesday afternoon.

He said “an urgent court case between the Government and the Speaker of Parliament” had prevented them sitting.

“Mr Speaker, the majority of the Members of Parliament from the Government side are waiting for a decision from the Supreme Court,” Mr Hymak said.

However, an MP for Tanna, Jotham Napat, said parliamentary sittings should not be disrupted by the court process.

“Let the court deal with the issue and it should not stop the [Parliament’s] discussion of the matters that are important to the lives of the people,” Mr Napat said.

Luganville MP, Matai Seremaiah, called on the speaker to use Parliamentary Standing Orders to deal with such situations.

This week is the second time the majority of Government MPs have vacated Parliament because of a constitutional case being heard in the Supreme Court.

After Government MPs walked out on Wednesday, the Speaker of Parliament allowed an extra five minutes so a quorum could be formed so the Parliament could continue sitting , but no quorum was reached.

The speaker adjourned the parliamentary sitting until 8:30 am today.

MPs are entitled to get an allowance of more than VT10,000 each time they attend a parliamentary session or a parliamentary committee meeting.

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