JM | Nov 26, 2021

‘Absent but vocal’: Peter Bunting slams ‘red herring’ as Gov’t fumes over scrapped SOEs

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

Opposition spokesman on national security, Peter Bunting speaks to journalists during the People’s National Party (PNP) press conference on the West Kings House Road grounds of the Leader of Opposition on Tuesday, November 16. (Photo: Akeem Hines)

Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Peter Bunting, is today (November 26) dismissing Government rhetoric around the absentee votes recorded during Thursday’s failed bid to extend the public states of emergency (SOEs) in sections of Jamaica. 

Senator Bunting, responding to questions posed by Our Today on Friday at a People’s National Party (PNP) press conference, argued that his five Opposition peers had clearly expressed no intention in continuing the measure. 

He likened arguments by Government senators, following the unsuccessful bid for another three months’ extension of the SOEs, as ‘red-herring’ tactics, adding that voting ‘No’ is a record-keeping exercise. 

“Seven of the eight Opposition senators were at the sitting yesterday, the eighth is overseas in India on Parliamentary duties, and all seven spoke against the [SOE] extension. Each person made clear their positions individually, so, the fact they did not stay until late in the evening to actually cast a vote is really of no effect,” Bunting noted.

“Not voting for it is effectively the same as voting against it. Those who stayed late into the evening may have wanted to make a point on the Parliamentary voting record but Hansard would record the positions of every Opposition member who spoke yesterday. This thing about two [‘No’ votes] or whatever is a red herring. A distraction,” he told Our Today.

Bunting was among the Opposition senators critical of the Government’s intent to extend the SOEs, despite the crime-fighting tool not delivering results on the national murder statistics. So too were Damion Crawford, Janice Allen, Sophia Frazer Binns, Lambert Brown and Donna Scott Mottley.

The PNP’s Gabriela Morris was not present on the island.

At the end of voting in Gordon House, the result was 13 senators in favour, five against. Five Opposition senators had left when votes were cast and were listed as ‘absent’.

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