Walkouts and petitions order of the day
Nuku’alofa – March 13, 2019: 4.25pm (Nuku’alofa Times): Nine Nobles’ reps and three Independent Members of Parliament walked out of the House on Tuesday following the pushing though of six Bills by the Government.
Today members of the Tonga College Old Boys Association and supporters presented petitions to the Palace Office and Parliament, asking for the reversal of an approval to lease part of the Tonga College land.
While the Nobles’ reps continued their protest today and were not in the House to witness the petition presentation, government continued with their radio program on Radio Tonga, explaining the consultation process they had carried out on a talkback show they hosted last week.
The Chair of the Whole House Committee, Veivosa Taka, had refused to bring the work of the committee into Parliament so that a motion by Lord Nuku could be tabled.
Lord Nuku insisted that the House should discuss how a public consultation on six new government Bills should be conducted.
However, Chairman Taka reiterated what Speaker Lord Fakafanua told the House on March 6, that the Parliament had no right to make any decision on how the government should conduct the consultation process.
“These laws belong to the government. The Minister of Justice said they would work on a public consultation process. That is not work to be done by the Parliament. And it is not part of the Law Committee’s guidelines,” Lord Fakafanua told the House in Tongan.
However, Lord Nuku warned Chairman Taka after the House returned from a break at 3pm that if he did not agree with his request, he and his noble colleagues would walk out.
The nine noble MPs were joined by Independent MPs Samiu Vaipulu of Vava’u 15, MP Tevita Lavemaau of ‘Eua 11 and MP Siaosi Sovaleni of Tongatapu 3.
Government submitted six Bills to Parliament.
These were labelled urgent by Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva. Hon. Pohiva withdrew the Bills last week, apparently so the public could be consulted on them.
The government conducted a radio talk back show as part of the public consultation process.
Meanwhile, the Tonga College petition was presented to the Palace Office and Parliament today.
The petition is calling on the reversal of a decision by government to lease part of the school land to Tonga Football.
Tonga College ex scholars and supporters want the land to be used for a school plantation that would cater for the planned boarding program at the school.
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