BOTH sides of the House were in agreement this week over the proposed amendment to move the time of Local Level Government (LLG) elections from three months after the national elections to 12 months.
The second reading and vote to change the election timeframe was pushed through without much debate as Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said the change was to give flexibility to enable swift elections as opposed to issues experienced in 2013.
“These amendments to the organic law on national and local level governments it is to change the issuing of the writs of the election of the local level government elections and for related purposes. By replacing the words three months and replacing them with 12 months,” he said.
“It gives the electoral commissioner the opportunity to defer the LLG elections because in this terms many of our councillors in our country were elected for a five year period in their term but unfortunately because of circumstances beyond our control in the conduct of the previous elections they are serving only four terms (years) from the time we are going to the elections.
“Thereby many councillors throughout the country have expressed that they wish to complete their full term of 5 years rather than 4 years and this will enable this to take place and that is why we are extending the elections for councillors in the country by 12 months.
“Also we want to ensure there is a smooth conduct of the national elections itself so the council elections do not continue to disrupt the conduct for the regional seats throughout the country and open electorates throughout the country, that is why we are proposing these simple amendments to this organic law.”
Leader Don Polye gave the opposition’s consent citing various issues experienced in the last general elections in 2012 leading to 2013.
“The situation is that we have seen many LLG elections that were supposed to be conducted within the current timespan after the last 2012 national elections and we have found that it was practically impossible for various reasons,” he said.
“So giving an interval of 12 months, probably say a reasonable time period for systems of governors can conduct the local level government elections and also for budgeting or financing them to operate at the third tier government level.
“With that amendment the opposition is in consent in amending that section of the law.”