Voter registration cards coming as Election Act to be amended
None of these Bills have come to the public for discussions, public inputs or debates, therefore the average resident, a few elected officials, and the media have not a clue what is in these Bills or how they would affect the daily lives of residents.
In fact, one Bill on the Order Paper for Tuesday’s Sitting- the Customs Management and Duties (Amendment) Act 2017- seems to be so urgent that Leader of Government Business and Premier Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) will be moving a motion for the suspension of Standing Order 52 (2) and (3) to allow for the Second and Third Readings of this piece of legislation.
Government ‘run around’ for information
However, the public has not been made aware of the urgency of this Bill that will lead to a suspension of the rules. Calls both yesterday April 12, 2017 and today April 13, 2017 to the Attorney General’s Chambers were met with the usual ‘run around’, of; “the AG is not available”, or “no one is in today in drafting”, or “we will call you back”, but no calls are returned from that Chambers, at least to our newsroom.
One of the many Bills before the Legislators is an Elections (Amendment) Act 2017. We tried to contact the Attorney General’s Chambers to find out what the Bill was about before it received its first reading.
We were unable to reach anyone and then decided to call the Premier’s Office, as Premier Smith is the one who will be introducing the Bill in the House for the first reading. We were told that we would have been referred to the Director of Communications, Mrs Arlene T. Penn, who was yet to return a call at the time of this article.
We finally reached a Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office who referred us to the Deputy Governor’s Office.
After almost twenty minutes of back and forth we were advised that the amendment to the Election Act is to bring into effect voter registration cards.
What is the real objective?
Another Bill before the HoA for the April 18, 2017 meeting is the Drug Trafficking Offences (Amendment) Act 2017. We were able to obtain a copy of the short amendments and the Bill seems to be targeted at extradition.
It stated that the replacing paragraph “apply to eternal confiscation orders and to proceedings which have been or are to be instituted in the requesting country and may result in an external confiscation order being made there.”
The amendment also addressed replacing the words in the main Act from “designated country” with the words “requesting country.”
The other interpretation of the amendments are not clear as finally Mrs Penn called back but it was after publication time, but still was unable to explain what are the changes trying to achieve.