Fiji PM Rabuka justifies use of Standing Order 51 to fast-track the repeal of the Media Bill and Itaukei Land Trust Amendment bill

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Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has justified the Government’s use of Standing Order 51 to fast-track the repeal of the Media Industry Development (Repeal) Bill of 2023 and the i-Taukei Land Trust (Amendment) Bill of 2023.

Speaking to FijiLive, Rabuka said that the two motions do not need to go to any of the Standing Committee and the two Bills are proposed to directly revert back to what it was before.

Rabuka said this is how the FijiFirst Government brought the MIDA Act of 2010 and the iTaukei Land Trust (Budget Amendment) Act – through Standing Order 51.

The Prime Minister was responding to criticism from Opposition MPs on Government’s intentions to fast track debate and to pass the two proposed Bills without further consultations from the public and relevant stakeholders.

Rabuka said if the avenue is available under the Standing Orders, “Use it, if the door is still open.”

“Any amendment or repeal of the original Act, that we are reverting to now, is still subject to consultations,” Rabuka said.

However, the Leader of Opposition Inia Seruiratu has called on the Attorney-General to conduct further consultations on the two proposed Bills.

Seruiratu said Government was avoiding consultations due to the fact of the low turnout from the public, from the meetings being conducted by the Fiscal Review Committee.

The Leader of Opposition also told the Parliament that an initial draft of the Bill to amend the MIDA Act 2010, however, due to pressure from media organisations, Seruiratu said Government is now proposing to repeal the Act.

Meanwhile, deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Communications, Manoa Kamikamica says the FijiFirst MPs’ opposing the repealing of the Media Industry Development Act 2010 and the iTaukei Land Trust Budget Amendment Act 2021 or commonly known as Bill 17 and asking for public consultations, is like a pot calling a kettle black.

While speaking on the Bills to be repealed and to be debated this Thursday, Kamikamica said this is serious business in Parliament and the problem with the opposition is they never listen.

Kamikamica said the government will use Parliamentary Standing Orders 51 sparingly and responsibly, and they will only use it when they believe the laws have been unjust and draconian, and consultations on Bill 17 by the FijiFirst happened after they were passed.

He said what a nonsense.

Kamikamica said these two laws are wrong, they should not exist in a proper democracy, and the two Acts are gone.

FijiFirst MP, Alvick Maharaj said people are also saying that the coalition government should increase the minimum wage, increase the cane price and reopen the Rakiraki Sugar Mill.

Maharaj said Standing Orders 51 allows 30 days for public consultations and these Bills should be referred for that. He said they should then come back if they need to be repealed.

Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad said these Bills are to repeal Acts where there was no consultation.

He said he Media Act was brought in by the military government to suppress the media.

Professor Prasad said Bill 17 was brought into parliament without proper consultation and he had opposed it.

He said after it was tabled, he was one of the people taken to the Police Station for questioning.

Professor Prasad said he was taken four or five times and the Police officers said they can’t tell him why he was taken in as there were orders from the top.

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Lynda Tabuya said they are getting on with the job as the opposition has been saying.

Tabuya said these Acts have to go.

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/FIJI VILLAGE/PACNEWS