Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said yesterday that he was disappointed with the opposition’s boycott of Parliament and called it a “dereliction of duty”.
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) MPs are boycotting the Senate and House of Assembly over the “judicial condemnation” of two Cabinet ministers in the Frank Smith extortion and bribery trial.
As he led debate on the Roads (Amendment) Bill, 2018, Bannister said, “Let me express my profound disappointment that the official opposition is not here.
“Mr. Speaker, whenever I speak in this place I look forward to hearing from the considered views of members of the opposition. That’s what democracy is all about sir.
“Mr. Speaker, they have a high constitutional duty to be here and to debate issues that come before this Parliament.
“They’ve irresponsibly and voluntarily absented themselves and there’s no excuse for that dereliction of duty.”
He added, “Their duty, Mr. Speaker, is to be here and I am disappointed and the Bahamian people as a result will disappoint them when the time comes.”
Tall Pines MP Don Saunders also took issue with the opposition’s absence and called it a “disgrace” and “a crying shame”.
“If they want you to come to their town hall meetings, then tell them to come to work every Wednesday, Mr. Speaker,” Saunders said.
“Don’t [go] to that meeting because they cannot come to this honorable House to represent you.”
Last week, a shouting match erupted between government and opposition members in the House of Assembly, resulting in the opposition walking out.
The row ensued after opposition leader Philip Brave Davis attempted to castigate the Minnis administration following the arrests of former Urban Renewal Deputy Director Michelle Reckley and three other people.
Shortly after walking out of Parliament, the PLP held a press conference at the party’s headquarters.
Davis said, “I announce with no pleasure that the PLP parliamentary caucus will boycott the House of Assembly for a period in protest, to mark the seriousness.
“We will not rest until tyrannical attitudes and practices are forever vanquished from this society.”
In a statement yesterday, PLP Chairman Fred Mitchel said, “The PLP MPs will continue to boycott Parliament today.
“The FNM continues to allow the administration of justice to be made a mockery. The party will return when the point has been sufficiently made and it is judged to be in the better interests of the Bahamian people.
“Until then we will continue to meet the people in the streets and in the people’s parliaments around the nation.”