Rabuka raises petitions issue

Leader of Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka during lunch break during Parliament sitting. Picture: ATU RASEA

PEOPLE and communities who submitted petitions to Parliament were denied a hearing of their petition, says Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

In his maiden speech to Parliament yesterday, Mr Rabuka said the truth was that the people and communities who submitted petitions to Parliament, as the highest court of the land, were denied a hearing of their petition after the Standing Orders were changed by the FijiFirst Government in 2015 through its parliamentary majority.

“The people were denied the hearing of their petitions by the undemocratic rule in the Standing Orders that petitions require 40 per cent of the members of Parliament to approve the referral of a petition to Standing Committee,” Mr Rabuka said.

He said previously, all petitions were referred to a Standing Committee automatically, however, this was not the case anymore.

“We have witnessed so many petitions that have met their demise on the floor of this Parliament by the force of numbers of the FijiFirst party majority from 2015 to 2018, a feature of democratic governance that I am hoping can be improved on, during our term in this honourable house,” he said.

“I pray that Government will not amend the Standing Orders to deny almost half the voting population of our country by increasing the threshold votes to 50 per cent of the members of the House just to disqualify the 47 per cent of the members of this house from bringing to Parliament this very basic and historic right of the people — to bring their petition to their peoples’ assembly.”

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