Papua New Guinea (PNG) Parliament is a single chamber legislature (law-making
body) consisting of 89 Members elected from Open electorates and 22 Governors
elected from Provincial electorates. The total 111 Members are directly voted
into office by citizens over 18 years of age and represent Papua New Guinea
provinces and districts. After an election, the political party with the most
seats is invited by the Governor General to form Government. Since
Independence all Governments have been formed by a coalition of Parties because
no Party has won enough Seats to form Government alone. The National
Constitution gives the legislative (law-making) power of the people to
Parliament. The PNG Constitution also declares that the maximum term of a
Parliament is five years.
Our Parliament was first created in 1964 as the House of Assembly of Papua
and New Guinea and became the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea in 1975
when Independence was granted. The House of Assembly building was located in
downtown Port Moresby and had previously been used as a hospital. The new
Parliament building was officially opened by His Royal Highness, Prince Charles,
on 8th August 1984. The old House of Assembly building has been demolished and
a Political History museum/library is being built as part of the redevelopment
of the site.
Parliament House is an iconic building in Papua New Guinea and a building
that we can all be very proud of. It is open to the public on week days (except
for public holidays) and Parliamentary staff are available to do guided tours
for groups of visitors. If you live in Port Moresby or are a visitor to Port
Moresby make sure that you visit our Parliament – it is certainly worth the
About the Chambers of Parliament
The Chambers of Parliament is the main meeting room where the formal
decisions of Parliament are made. The Chambers has two main sections -
The focal point of the Chambers in the centre is the Speaker’s Chair. The
Speaker’s Chair represents the highest authority of Parliament and must always
be respected. If a Member walks in front of the Speaker’s Chair, he or she
should bow to show respect for the authority of “the Chair”.
On the right of the Speaker are the Government benches and on the left are
the Opposition benches. The Ministers of Government and Shadow Ministers of the
Opposition are seated in the front benches. All other Members are seated in
the rows behind and are called “Backbenchers”. Our Parliament has individual
chairs for Members not benches like in many Parliaments but we still use the
traditional language of Parliament.
In front of the Speaker’s Chair is the table for the Clerk of Parliament who
advises the Speaker when necessary and other high level Parliamentary staff who
administer the procedures on the Floor of Parliament.
In front of that table is the table where Ministers and Members sit if they
are presenting Bills (draft laws) to Parliament for Parliament to debate.
The rules about how the proceedings of a Session of Parliament are conducted
and about proper behavior by Members when in the Chambers of Parliament are in
the Standing Orders of National Parliament.
About the Public Gallery
Our Parliament has a large public Gallery (much larger than many
Parliaments). Most days during sessions of Parliament, the Public Gallery is
full – groups of school children, women’s groups, and ordinary citizens are
interested to watch the procedures and debates in the Chambers.
Directly opposite the Speaker’s Chair is the Speaker’s Gallery for his
invited guests, Members of the Diplomatic Corps and foreign dignitaries.
Another small section of the public Gallery is reserved for the media but most
space is for the general public. When the public enter the Gallery they should
first face the Speaker’s Chair and bow to the Chair as a sign of respect for the
authority of Parliament.
The Standing Orders of National Parliament do not specifically include the
rules of behavior for the people in the Gallery. However, the public must not
participate in any way with what is happening on the Floor in the Chambers.
They should remain silent and cannot clap or interject. If people do not
respect these unwritten rules, the Parliamentary staff will remove them from the
About the Symbols of Parliament
The Parliamentary Crest
(photo) shows a Bird of Paradise sitting on the Mace
Mace (photo) sits on the centre of the table in front of the
Mace is carried into Parliament by the Sergeant at Arms in
Speaker when he enters the Chambers of Parliament at the
beginning of the
daily Sitting of parliament and is carried out again
at the end of the daily
Sitting. When the Mace is put in its place on
the centre table in front of
Speaker, the Members cannot walk
around unless they are leaving the
the the rules of the
Standing Orders of National Parliament
are enforced by the
Our Parliament’s Mace was presented by the Australian Commonwealth Government
at the opening of the First House of Assembly on 8th June 1964. It is made of
silver heavily plated with pure gold. Encased within the head is a
stone ball symbolic of a stone war club – a traditional weapon in
many parts of
Papua New Guinea. The ceremonial tradition of the Mace comes
from the British
Our Parliament is a magnificent building designed to reflect
architecture of Papua New Guinea and decorated with traditional
artwork to remind us of the rich heritage of the hundreds of
tribes that are now
joined together as one people and one nation. It is
truly a House to be proud
of and a House of Parliament to be respected by
all Members and all people. It
is the home of the principles of democracy
of our nation.