NEWS

Walkout Haunts Opposition MPs

The Opposition were reminded yesterday that they had two weeks to debate matters relating to the National Budget. Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy said this in response to the passing
12 Dec 2014 12:40
Walkout Haunts Opposition MPs

The Opposition were reminded yesterday that they had two weeks to debate matters relating to the National Budget. Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy said this in response to the passing of 12 Bills in Parliament yesterday. He said there was no point in objecting to various details of the different Bills, particularly related to budgetary matters, when the Opposition walked out from Parliament last week. Mr Reddy said the Opposition had missed the chance to scrutinise the National Budget for 2015.

The debate became more provocative in the afternoon when the Opposition realised that they were allocated five minutes,along with Government MPs to debate the 12 Bills. This had been passed as motion earlier in the morning.

Government MP Ashneel Sudhakar responded for the Government and Viliame Gavoka responded for the Opposition.

Some of the comments made yesterday in Parliament during the debate on the Consequential Bills were:

“It is quite rich for them to talk about scrutiny when they walked out of the debate last week.”- Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed -Khaiyum

“We need notice; we need to scrutinise these bills properly as legislators,” -Niko Nawaikula, Opposition MP

“This should not be expedited without looking at it properly,” -Semesa Karavaki, Opposition MP

“When we were wanting to discuss the various heads, they vacated the House,”-Mahendra Reddy, Minister for Education

“I know it’s very hard for them to get used to the democratic process, All we’re asking for is a little time,“-Tupou Draunidalo, Opposition MP

“Here is an Opposition that is caught; they walked out now they are trying to claw their way back,”- Mahendra Reddy, Minister for Education

“You reckon that these Bills to be discussed in five minutes, what a joke,”- Ratu Isoa Tikoca, Opposition Chief Whip

In responding on behalf of the Government, Ashneel Sudhakar had to endure interjections and calls like “you don’t know what you’re talking about,” from Opposition MPs.

Despite this, he focused his argument on the Bill to amend the Land Sales Act.

He said the principal aim of the Bill was to protect land within town boundaries. The sale of land within these boundaries to foreigners would be restricted. He clarified that the new laws did not affect foreigners passing land onto their children or affect high-profile tourist sites like Denarau and Naisoso.

Replying for the Opposition, Viliame Gavoka said his colleagues were ‘still in a state of shock.” He claimed included in the Bills was more indirect taxes, that placed an extra burden on ordinary Fijians.

In his short right of reply, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the Bills had positive aspects that were overlooked by the Opposition. He said the Bills provded for increased savings for Fijians and protected local manufacturers.

The Bills were passed with 30 endorsing them, three voting against, fifteen MPs not voting and one abstention.

In a seperate development, the Speaker Jiko Luveni has asked that Opposition MP Tupou Draunidalo discuss a proposed adjournment motion in chambers with her. The matter relates to the contentious issue of television coverage of the  World Sevens Series.

Feedback: josua.tuwere@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

 

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