NEWS

Heated Debate On Standing Orders Kick-Starts Day One

A heated debate kick-started the first day of Parliament sittings yesterday. The flawed argument was about the Standing Orders and the way to amend it. Opposition’s argument: Opposition leader Sitiveni
27 Nov 2018 10:39
Heated Debate On Standing Orders Kick-Starts Day One
Speaker Dr Jiko Luveni and the members of parliament on November 26th, 2018. Photo: Simione Haravanua

A heated debate kick-started the first day of Parliament sittings yesterday.

The flawed argument was about the Standing Orders and the way to amend it.

Opposition’s argument:

Opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka’s first debate in Parliament was to push for the Standing Orders to be amended before the motion to adopt the Standing Orders be passed in Parliament.

Niko Nawaikula, Salote Radrodro, Viliame Gavoka and Biman Prasad spoke on this motion from the Opposition side.

The Opposition asked that:

  • Opposition be allowed to chair the Public Accounts Committee
  • Opposition members be deputy chairs of various Parliamentary Committees
  • Allow for petition to be brought in Parliament. This was clarified by Infrastructure Minister Jone Usamate that there were processes in place already to make this happen.

Government’s explanation and the law:

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa informed the House that the Opposition’s opposition to the motion was ill-conceived because the amendments Opposition was seeking could be done at the Committee level.

She read out section 128 (2) of the Standing Order which states:

Immediately following the first sitting of Parliament after each election, the Standing Orders Committee shall be automatically convened to –

a. Review the Standing Orders; and

b. Report to Parliament within 14 sitting days with recommended amendments to the Standing Orders, if any, in which case, on the third sitting day after the tabling of the report, the Speaker must put the question “That the amendments recommended by the Standing Committee in (name of report) be adopted by Parliament.

This means that in any case, the Standing Orders had to go before the Committee where any recommendations for amendments are to be made.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum informed the House that last Friday, during a one day pre-first sitting induction, Opposition had raised the same issue where they were informed what the processes were. He questioned why despite that clarification, Opposition opposed the motion moved by leader of Government in Parliament, Inia Seruiratu.

Mr Seruiratu said the Opposition needed to do their homework and get their facts right before speaking in Parliament.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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