Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday called for “heads to roll” after Attorney General Carl Bethel admitted that his office made an oversight that resulted in the emergency proclamation expiring at midnight last night.
“The attorney general has a course of action to take,” Davis said.
“The collapse of the legal regime regarding the extension of the proclamation of the state of public emergency only shows what we have said all along and it is that this government is shockingly inept and incompetent. This is an enormous embarrassment for and failure of this Minnis led government.
“The question must then be asked: If they got this simple procedural issue wrong then what else have they gotten wrong in the course of governance? This is just the latest in a series of missteps, misinformation and disinformation on the part of this government.
“Clearly, the public has no confidence in this Minnis-led government and the expectation is that heads must roll.”
The government gave notice of a resolution to extend the current state of emergency past June 29 to July 31, but did not pass the resolution.
Under parliamentary rules, a resolution cannot be debated unless 24 hours notice is given.
The House of Assembly can have that caveat waived, but that did not happen.
Governor General C. A. Smith issued a new proclamation of emergency to extend the initial proclamation that expired at midnight last night.
The new proclamation of emergency can be extended up to six months.
A state of emergency was declared in mid-March following the country’s first case of the novel coronavirus. The government then moved forward with emergency orders restricting the movement of residents, closed the borders and issued other provisions to stem the spread of COVID-19.
In a communication to the Senate yesterday, Bethel said the opposition had indicated an intention not to waive the 24-hour rule.
However, according to Davis, the opposition never disagreed to waive the 24-hour notice and said the government did not ask.
“No request was made to waive the 24-hour notice,” Davis said.
“If they had made the request, we have never stood in their way of debating a resolution such as this before.
“I got a voice-note this morning from the leader of government business indicating that what they had proposed to do this morning was just to lay the resolution and come back tomorrow to debate it.”
The House meets today at 3 p.m.
Wayne Munroe, QC, said yesterday that he doesn’t understand how such an oversight was made and encouraged the attorney general to resign or be fired.
“Accepting responsibility isn’t just some words you use,” Munroe said.
“You accept responsibility on your way out. If you accept responsibility for something done in your office and it’s small, then okay. But if it’s something serious, then you must go. And for these fellas, nothing’s more serious than their precious emergency orders and curfew.”