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Feb 8, 2024

Senator Eamon Courtenay Explains His “Cabinet Privileges”

Eamon Courtenay

And, we also heard from Eamon Courtenay, the Lead Senator for Government Business. He explained how he is able to function in his role as a senator after resigning as a government minister. Senator Courtenay did not wish to discuss his resignation. He noted, however, that the prime minister has already spoken on the matter. Nonetheless, he confirmed that he maintains Cabinet privileges as a result of his position in the Senate.


Eamon Courtenay, Lead Government Senator

“As usual whenever Michael Peyrefitte raises anything it is mischief. He either misinforms himself or fails to understand. Even when it was pointed out to him that the standing order he was referring to is not applicable, he still persisted in writing to the president. It served an opportunity, one for the Senate to get advice from the attorney general for the legal position. The legal position is very clear, the standing orders makes a distinction between ministers on the one hand and leaders of government business on the other hand. There is no requirement that the leader for government business be a minister, be a member of Cabinet. That is very clear from the standing orders and the president explained all of that this morning. Secondly, as I have said, Fred Martinez, Doug Singh, same position, they were not in Cabinet but they were leaders of government business. So there is nothing new about this happening. It is just the usual mischief from mike.”


Paul Lopez

“Outside of your ministerial position now, how do you become informed or aware of the government’s or Cabinet’s intentions behind a bill or a motion?”


Eamon Courtenay

“Right, so that is why in the press release, when the prime minister announced my resignation, they used the phrase Cabinet privilege. The tradition and convention well establish that as has happened with other, the leader for government business is invited to Cabinet when there is major legislation being debated, discussed in Cabinet so that you can know, when it comes to the Senate, what the government’s thinking is. Since the end of December when I left Cabinet, I have not been to single Cabinet meeting because there has not been any major legislation that my presence needs to be there so that I can participate in the debate and understand it. But, the idea is whenever there is a major piece of legislation I will be invited the Cabinet, assuming I can make it, I will attend to make sure I understand what government policy is behind the legislation.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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