Sunvoice

Walkout Is Blunder No 2

First blunder: The SODELPA MPs’ boycott of the visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Second blunder: Monday’s walkout by the Opposition from Parliament in the midst of the 2015
10 Dec 2014 09:45
Walkout Is Blunder No 2
Tupou Draunidalo of the National Federation Party (NFP) leads Opposition colleagues, Salote Radrodro, Aseri Radrodro and Viliame Gucake back into Parliament yesterday after walking out during Budgetary debates on Monday. Photo: Josua Tuwere

First blunder: The SODELPA MPs’ boycott of the visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Second blunder: Monday’s walkout by the Opposition from Parliament in the midst of the 2015 Budget debate.

The Opposition is more effective inside Parliament than outside because that’s where it takes Government head-on to debate issues of national importance. The 2015  Budget is one of those issues.

At a critical time when its members should have been present to debate the Budget Estimates and Supplements, they chose to walk out.

This was the moment they were waiting for. It came and went and they missed the boat.

They failed to seize the opportunity and challenge the 2015 Budget every step of the way before its passage.

They should not have been surprised and upset that their motion, for Government to withdraw the Budget Estimates and Supplements before any corrections, was defeated.

They wanted to terminate the debate and for Government to resubmit the 2015 Budget with all its amendments by December 15 or in January.

Government will not allow the debate to drag into January. The Budget needed to be passed by December 31 to allow the normal functions of the executive arm, responsible for public service, to continue.

It’s a question of supply. The Opposition knew they did not have the numbers. The walkout was over-the-top.

It was based on emotion and not carefully thought out. It showed the inexperience of the Opposition Whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca who gave the signal for the walkout.

National Federation Party member Prem Singh looked undecided.

He was the last to leave the chambers. Maybe there were some in the Opposition ranks who disagreed with the walkout.

If they really believed in their cause, they should have stayed and toughed it out when their motion was defeated.

There were 50 heads in the Appropriation Bill for the 2015 Budget. The Opposition members could have contested all of them and showed the people of Fiji that they can become a credible government alternative.

Hansard will record it that they walked out. They could not take the heat, hoisted the white flag and surrendered.

They played right into the hands of the Government who happily went through the heads rapidly because there was no opposition.

They could have made life difficult for the Government if they wanted to. In the past, Budget debates used to go late into the night.

The Opposition then fought every inch of the way and made Government work hard before the Budget was passed.

The 2015 Budget will be known for its easy passage through Parliament, compliments of the missing Opposition.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 




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