THE routine task of selecting senators to sit on parliamentary joint select committees (JSCs) was upset on Tuesday when Opposition Senator Wade Mark protested against a directive that any member of the National Security JSC could be removed from that committee if a majority of its members deemed that member has a conflict of interest on any matter.
Leader of Government Business Franklin Khan announced Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Randall Mitchell, Senate Vice-President Nigel De Freitas, Independent Senator Paul Richards and Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial as the senators who will join MPs from the House of representatives on the National Security JSC.
Khan said if a majority of this committee's members determine that another member has a conflict of interest on any matter before it, that member can be "disqualified from the committee without recourse to the House (Senate)." When Mark objected, Senate President Christine Kangaloo told him the directives were put to the Senate without any kind of deliberation. Mark called for a division.
The directive regarding a removal of a member of the National Security JSC by a majority of committee members for a conflict of interest was approved, with 17 senators voting for it, eight opposing and three abstaining.
Independent Senators Dr Maria Dillon-Remy, Hazel Thompson-Ahye and Evans Welch voted with the 15 government senators. Two of their colleagues, Dr Varma Deyalsingh and Charisse Seepersad voted with the six opposition senators. Independent senators Paul Richards, Anthony Vieira and Amrita Deonarine abstained.
There were no other objections to Khan's announcements of other senators to sit on all other parliamentary JSCs. Those included the Public Accounts Committee and Public Accounts Enterprises Committee, which under the Constitution, are always chaired by the Opposition.
At the start of the sitting, Kangaloo announced the names of senators who will sit as members of Senate sessional select committees.