Through the parliamentary twinning program, the NSW Parliament is paired with the parliaments of Bougainville and Solomon Islands. In this Twin Peeks blog, we meet Ruby Garnean, a Senior Procedure Officer from the Bougainville House of Representatives…
Can you give us a quick overview of the Bougainville House of Representatives?
The Bougainville House of Representatives (BHoR) is a 41-member unicameral House representing Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea. Elections are held every five years using the limited preferential electoral system. The Speaker is appointed from outside the House by a vote of the members.
By law, Parliament meets once in every period of three months in a year.
From Tuesday to Friday, the Government decides on the arrangement of business, however opportunities are given to Private Members between 10am and 12 noon every sitting Thursday to raise constituency issues or matters for the Government’s consideration.
The BHoR has no opposition bench, but the Government is held to account through mechanisms such as question time, parliamentary debates and committee scrutiny.
The House has 13 committees and they are very effective, with various functions mandated either by the Constitution, Standing Orders and/or an Act of Parliament.
You’re a senior Procedure Officer. What does this involve?
I first joined the House of Representatives in 2014 as a records officer, but now my role is to oversee operations of the Procedure and Chamber Services section.
Some of my responsibilities include preparing business papers, such as the Notice Paper, Daily Program and the Minutes, and managing bills, notices of motions and written questions lodged by Members. I also facilitate procedural briefings to Members when required, especially newly elected Members.
You visited the NSW Parliament in 2015. What was the aim of the attachment and how long were you in Sydney? What do you recall most from that visit?
I came to Sydney for two weeks to learn about the tricks of the trade in parliamentary procedures and practices, and to recommend changes to our BHoR practices where possible.
My recollections of the visit are firstly, it was a privilege for me to observe the sittings of both or your Houses (Assembly and Council) and secondly, the fruitful exchanges and support I received from the NSW Parliament and staff of both Houses, who despite being busy went out of their way to support me during my two week program.
What does the twinning relationship mean to you?
Twinning it is an important partnership that links institutions with shared characteristics to achieve a common goal. It strengthens mutual understanding and encourages exchanges of best practices, including through effective collaborations between twinned legislatures at the regional and international level.
How has COVID-19 affected your day-to-day work in the Parliament?
Some of my prioritised programs have not been implemented due to the pandemic, the restrictions and budget cuts.
Which part of Bougainville did you come from? Can you tell us a bit about your home? What do you miss the most when you’re away from IT?
I’m from a mixed parentage of three constituencies in North Bougainville, namely:
1. Haku Constituency (Eltupan/Lontis)
2. Tsitalato Constituency (Lonahan/Malasang)
3. Tonsu Constituency (Zuzunu/Matsungan Island).
The place that I escape to is Zuzunu, meaning ‘bayside’, and it is located east of Matsungan Island in the Tonsu Constituency. It is a beautiful place with green scenery and a lot of fresh air and pristine waters.
What I miss most when away from home is seafood, fresh air and chocolate.
Yes! I love chocolate and our chocolate is locally made from homegrown Bougainville cocoa. l hope one day you visit Bougainville and have a taste of it.
Learn more about the twinning program in our earlier Twin Peeks blog here and you can also meet the Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, the Honourable Patteson Oti, in our entry here.