It is anticipated Speaker of Parliament, Gracia Shadrack will adjourn the First Extraordinary Session of Parliament when Members of Parliament convene today.
MPs are expected to debate several written motions and six Bills.
The written motions include: Motion for Indemnity for AstraZeneca, Motion for the Re-establishment and Appointment of Members to the Parliamentary Standing Committees and Motion to establish the Ad-Hoc Committee to consider the Bill for the Commercial Government Business Enterprise Act.
But Leader of Opposition, Ralph Regenvanu told Daily Post at 5pm yesterday that they haven’t receive any bills and motions. However, he confirmed that he had spoken to Prime Minister Bob Loughman and they have agreed to ask Speaker Shadrack to adjourn the session until Thursday this week.
This will allow the Parliament Secretariat to distribute the bills and motions to the MPs, as well as give sufficient time for six MPs who still haven’t arrive in Port Vila due to COVID-19 travel restrictions to be present.
The Leader of the Opposition has expressed his “grave disappointment” at the failure of the Government to provide the motion to indemnify manufacturers for COVID-19 vaccines to the MPs in advance of the commencement of the 1st Extraordinary Session of Parliament at 8.30am today.
“As at 3pm on Monday 19th of April, the MPs have still not yet received a copy of the motion that the government has already announced will be debated on the first morning of the extraordinary session,” he said.
Section 43 of the Standing Orders of Parliament which concerns written motions states:
(1) A Member who wishes to move a written motion must give written notice by delivering to the Clerk a copy of the motion in French and English signed by the Member and by one other Member acting as seconder, not less than two (2) days before the day on which the Member intends to move the motion.
(2) The Clerk must give a copy of the motion to each Member within one day of receiving the motion.
“In fact, of the six Bills and four Motions listed on the agenda for the First Extraordinary Session, we the Members of Parliament have only received copies of three Bills – the three other Bills and all four Motions have yet to be received,” said Mr Regenvanu.
“Given that Motions require a minimum of two days notice and Bills a minimum of 10 days notice, it seems that there will be very little to talk about this week in Parliament.
“The Prime Minister talked to me on the phone this morning (yesterday) and requested that the Opposition support a motion at the beginning of the sitting tomorrow morning (today) to suspend the notice requirements for motions, so that Parliament could debate and pass the motion to indemnify manufacturers for COVID-19 vaccines tomorrow morning.
“I told him that the Opposition would be willing to support this, but that we had not yet received the motion and so he needed to make sure the Parliament Secretariat receives the motion today so that Members could receive it and read it before having to vote on it.
“Despite my request, however, by 3.30pm today the Parliament Secretariat has still not received the motion from the Government.
“How can we support a motion we have not had the opportunity to even read? What is more distressing is that the State Law Office advised the Government in June last year already – almost 12 months ago — that it had to have this motion passed by Parliament so that Vanuatu could receive and start administering the vaccine. We are already going to be the last country in the Pacific to receive the vaccine, and now the Government cannot even produce the two-page document to vote on 24 hours before the time at which it itself announced we would be voting on it.”
Daily Post made several attempts to contact the Secretariat of Parliament before and after 4.30pm yesterday but there was no response.