‘It will be a 3-way battle’

HOPE party leader Tupou Draunidalo says the party's focus for the 2018 General Election will focus on the economy, health, education and constitutional reform. Picture: FILE.

THE 2018 General Election will be a three-way battle, says HOPE party leader Tupou Draunidalo.

Ms Draunidalo is adamant that the battle would essentially be between her, FijiFirst party leader Voreqe Bainimarama and National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad.

In an interview yesterday, she said she was a well-known political leader, having made her mark as an effective parliamentary performer of the current Parliament.

She was suspended for the remainder of the term of Parliament in June 2016 for contravening parliamentary standing orders.

“I was an elected member of the current Parliament with votes surpassing some Cabinet ministers and other Opposition members,” Ms Draunidalo said.

“The race will essentially be between the Prime Minister, the leader of the NFP and myself as leader of HOPE.”

Ms Draunidalo said she had worked hard to advocate for the rule of law and political stability in Fiji.

“I have also been a leader in the legal fraternity (vice-president and council member of the Fiji Law Society) before politics with about 20 years of hard work, sacrifice and service to advocacy for the rule of law and political stability in Fiji.

“We believe our chances are as good as any of the other three parties in Parliament. The people will decide. “No party owns any voter. The people can vote again for the same candidates they had voted for in 2014 or they can vote for a different candidate/party.”

She claimed Fiji had a presidential type system of voting. “All votes go to the party leader first. So the race is really one between the leaders of the parties.”

Draunidalo said the SODELPA leader was not a member of the current Parliament and the leader of the Unity Fiji party was also from outside but was well qualified in economics and “without political baggage” although he had served previous administrations at very high places.

She said the HOPE party’s election fight would focus on the economy, health, education and constitutional reform. “Economy — $10 minimum wage, sector by sector, tax benefits to employers to offset costs, productivity pledges from the unions, inflation control by the government; cost of living; housing and environment.

“Health — government investment in first-class hospitals and clinics which includes modern equipment and well-looked after nurses and other professionals.”

She said for education, her party would invest in first-class schools which included the modernisation of the curriculum with help from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the European Union through an education commission, building upgrades including boarding schools, equipment and the remuneration and welfare of teachers.

“Team HOPE values education very highly hence the ideals expressed to help young Fijians get the best start in life so that they can contribute to Fiji and beyond.”

Ms Draunidalo says the party’s constitutional reform would focus on more freedom and more democracy.

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