Monday, 14 October 2013 9:14 AM

Government Plans to Reintroduce Integrity Bill Before Elections

The Solomon Islands Government is looking at re-introducing the Integrity Bill before next year's election, aimed at stopping members changing political allegiance mid-term.

Attorney General Billy Titiulu says the Government is now looking at amending the Political Integrity Bill, to allow its introduction without a constitutional change later this year.

The Political Integrity Bill, which has been in existence since 2010, would end the practice of MPs switching their allegiance mid-term in pursuit of a better position in a new coalition.

But despite numerous efforts, successive governments have not been able to get approval for the bill.

Last week Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Gordon Darkie Lilo withdrew the bill from parliament when it became obvious its sister bill - changing the constitution to allow the introduction of the Integrity Bill - did not have the support of two-thirds of the 50-seat House.

Attorney General Billyo Titiulu told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat that lawmakers are now looking at changing the bill, to allow its introduction without a constitutional change later this year.

"You could establish an independent commission, where that doesn't need a constitutional amendment." he said.

"We want to have it so that it becomes operational before the end of 2014."

Mr Titiulu says the government believes the bill is necessary to ensure political stability.

If the Bill is passed, the most significant change is that Prime Ministers will be appointed rather than elected by Parliament. The nominee of the party with the highest number of seats will be appointed PM. If a single party is unable to form government, then the coalition with an absolute majority may nominate a coalition member and, again, that nominee will be automatically appointed PM.

It is hoped that such an arrangement would not only discourage party hopping tendencies, but also put an end to the practice where money and allegiances flow freely prior to the election of Prime Minister.

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