A-G: They simply want to bulldoze their way

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during the parliament break yesterday, February 18, 2020. Picture: RAMA

ATTORNEY-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s recommendation that the Opposition be punished for walking out of Parliament yesterday was rejected by Speaker Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

Opposition members walked out of Parliament in protest after Ratu Epeli ruled that a petition from tikina Nasigatoka about magnetite mining at the Sigatoka River mouth could not be brought to Parliament.

Ratu Epeli ruled that the petition could not be referred to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources because it involved a non-State entity.

Opposition member Viliame Gavoka, who brought the petition before the Speaker, said the ruling was “disappointing” and “unacceptable” before members walked out of the House.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum labelled the Opposition’s actions “shameful”.

“They simply want to bulldoze their way and they continuously show disrespect to this Parliament, disrespect to you and disrespect to the Fijian people and the very institution of Parliament by walking out at every drop of the hat,” the A-G said.

“I would urge that you consider such actions tantamount to enormous, not just abuse of process, but enormous disrespect and dishonour to your office and to this very institution.

“And we need to send a huge lesson to them, that they cannot simply do this and that they should not be allowed to come back at least for a period of time through your ruling Mr Speaker sir.”

In response, Ratu Epeli said he had experienced walkouts by both sides of the House.

“Let me tell you one thing which you probably do not know or had you known, probably do not remember,” the Speaker said.

“I am the only Speaker where the Opposition has walked out of the Chamber and where Government has walked out from the Chamber.

“I am the only Speaker who has experienced that, so for me it is not a new thing.

“A Government does not walk out when it’s got the majority.

“I expect the Opposition to do that, they are in disagreement but it is a temporary thing.”

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