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Showing posts from December 2, 2012

How Laws are Made in Bainimarama's Fiji

By G Larson In a fully functioning parliamentary democracy such as New Zealand new law are made by the legislature (parliament), usually on the recommendation of the executive (cabinet, that includes the Attorney-General) and enforced by the judiciary (the Courts).. The Attorney-General's office is responsible for drafting most new laws. In Fiji, law proposals are widely circulated to stakeholders before submission to Cabinet. For example, this last week has seen the third public consultation on the new Companies Decree which will come into effect on 1st January 2013. Consultations have been ongoing for over a year and stakeholders have been able to attend public meetings as well as make written submissions.

The Media Decree is another example where wide consultations were held and submissions were received. Public opinion or human rights?
Admittedly, there were fewer consultations on laws such as the Domestic Violence Decree or the decision to decriminalize homosexuality or …

What the Judiciary Can and Cannot Do

By G. Larson
There seems to be some misunderstanding on what the judiciary can and cannot do. I'm not sure if people are being deliberately obtuse or have other motives.

The courts cannot strike down laws. So, the contention that a law cannot be reviewed by the courts is correct. It was ever thus. This is not an American system where laws can be reviewed or struck down for want of constitutionality. What appears sometimes, is that a particular person's decision under a law cannot be reviewed and is final.

Your commentator Gutter Press says the courts do not accept cases which are not subject to review. What does that mean? Of course they don't. If the particular law states that a decision is not amenable to judicial review, the courts would be overstepping their authority and interfering in the executive and legislative branches of government if they were to do so.

Ouster clauses
These provisions are called ouster clauses, and, though not common, do also occur from time to …

The 2013 Budget and Social Expenditure

                        Some Reflections by Fr Kevin J. Barr
As usual there was a mixture of positives and negatives in the 2013 Budget. The business community, of course, were overjoyed with the continuation of incentives to investors and there was great hype in the media. The allocation being given to roads and infrastructure throughout the nation (though somewhat excessive) was welcomed by most. There were many good things in the Budget but also some serious disappointments.
Provision for Basic Needs
The increased budgets for Education and Health (especially directed to rural areas) was much appreciated as was the continuation of bus fares for students and the elderly and the provision of text books. However, one of the big disappointments was the failure to increase funding for the housing of low-income earners and the poor. Housing together with education, health care and food is one of the basic needs of the people. In total less than $4m was allocated:

• $…

Maybe Time To Bring Fiji In From the Cold

by: Michael O'Keefe From:The Australian December 04, 201212:00AM
LAST month a new regional organisation was born. It arrived with little fanfare, but it may very well reshape the architecture of co-operation in the South Pacific. In early November a Fijian government press release quietly announced the creation of the Pacific Islands Development Forum. It replaces the Engaging with the Pacific process that was set up following Fiji's suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum to maintain close co-operation between island states. What's in a name? The one word difference between the PIDF and PIF is extremely significant. It signals that the agenda of the new organisation will be firmly on Pacific island development issues, including the impact of climate change. This sharply distinguishes it from the PIF, which many regional states argue has increasingly taken on a security-dominated agenda focussed on the interests of the metropolitan powers, Australia and New…

Engaging with Fiji: New Zealand thawing cold relations

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Engaging with Fiji: New Zealand thawing cold relations – Fijian Minister Filipe Bole in New Zealand for Medical treatment. By Thakur Ranjit Singh in his new blog Fiji Pundit
Currently Fiji’s Education Minister, Filipe Bole is reportedly in New Zealand for medical treatments. Stuff, Dominion Post newspaper’s website reported that an ailing Bole was let into New Zealand which has briefly lifted its ban on politicians involved in the military rule of Fiji to allow an ailing minister into the country. [Strangely the full story from the website appeared to have been removed.] The Stuff seems to have got its signals wrong because it is not a brief lifting of sanctions but appears to be a systematic thawing of cold relations that had existed between the two neighbours. This is not the first time Bole was allowed into New Zealand. Previously, he attended an Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) ministerial meeting in Manukau, Auckland on 22 March, 2010. It was then hailed as a very promising sign…

News and Comments Friday 7 December 2012

WEEKEND READING.  •  Engaging with Fiji by Thakur Ranjit Singh • The 2013 Budget and Social Expenditure by Fr Kevin Barr   •  Maybe Time to Bring Fiji in from the Cold by Michael O'Keefe  • What the Judiciary Can and Cannot Do by G. Larson • How Laws are Made in Bainimarama's Fiji by G Larson.

CCF VIDEO LAUNCH. The Citizens' Constitutional Forum will launch its "Our Voice, Our Future, Our Constitution," its  documentary video, on Monday.

REPORT ON PUBLIC MEETING ON CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY.Click here   and  here.

CORRUPTION: FICAC urges people who have been victims of corruption or white collar crime to speak up and report the issue to the authorities. Fiji is only one of three countries in the South Pacific to have ratified the UN’s Convention against Corruption.

PACIFIC ISLANDERS QUESTION NZ's WITHDRAWN FROM KYOTO COMMITMENT.
Representatives of the Alliance of Small Island States’ (AOSIS) met with the New Zealand delegation at the Doha round of climate talks t…

Official Release on Constituent Assembly

MEDIA RELEASE:  PM SAYS CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY MEMBERS MUST HAVE WIDESPREAD COMMUNITY SUPPORT
The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, says the Constituent Assembly, he will appoint to review the new Constitution, will represent the broadest possible cross section of Fijian society.
But he stressed that its members will first need to demonstrate that they represent a significant constituency in the country.
Speaking at the opening of the 14th  annual Attorney-Generals Conference at Natadola, the Prime Minister said Fijians could not allow a narrow band of elite to again determine the country’s future, as had happened with previous constitutions.
“We have already had a handful of men determine what our constitution would be after independence, we have already had the 1990 Constitution imposed with almost no consultation at all, and we have already had the key recommendations of the Reeves Commission overturned by a joint parliamentary select committee. This will not happen again”, …

News and Comments Wednesday 5 December 2012

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REMINDER. TONIGHT IN SUVA. DECEMBER 5th. Public lecture on “The Nature of a Constituent Assembly” hosted by CCF, in partnership with the FWRM and USP’s School of Government, Development and International Affairs. Speaker: Renowned constitutional expert Professor Cheryl Saunders, University of Melbourne. Venue and time: Lali Room, Holiday Inn, 6:00pm.

HOW INDEPENDENT IS THE JUDICIARY? Gutter Press made this comment on last Wednesday's News and Comments:

Crosbie, your confidence that Fiji's judiciary does not bow to state pressure is not only misplaced, it is demonstrably wrong. The judiciary does not accept cases pertaining to any decree which has been deemed by the regime to not be subject to review. As such it bows to state pressure in the most obsequious way Whilst I accept that misuse does not remove use, in the case of the judiciary it’s also a matter of ‘by their fruits shall ye know them’.

I replied: @ Gutter press. This is a hard one. The job of any judiciary is to uphol…

Fiji Government Statement on PACP and PI Forum

The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has reaffirmed the Pacific ACP's [PACP] independence from the Pacific Islands Forum after a Special Leaders Meeting held in Port Moresby last month.
The Prime Minister expressed Fiji's belief that the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has misrepresented a key decision made at this meeting regarding the relationship between it and the PACP.
The outcomes document released by the Forum Secretariat reported that Papua New Guinea [PNG] will host a secretariat for PACP Leaders meetings only, and that the Forum Secretariat will continue its duties for other PACP activities and meetings.
The Prime Minister said that it is Fiji's position that this is a misreporting of the decision taken at last month's Special Leaders Meeting.
"It is our understanding that the PACP Leaders decided that there would be a complete separation between the Forum Secretariat and the PACP," the Prime Minister said. "PNG offered to host and fund a fu…

News and Comments Monday 3 December 2012

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WHAT IS A CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY? MEETING ON WEDNESDAY. Educating the public on different aspects of the democratic process is vital. The freedom to vote in an election is not enough if people do not know what they are voting for. Similarly, a new constitution should help Fiji to become a more robust democracy but only if people understand what a democratic constitution should look like.
  This will be the job of the Constituent Assembly as it considers the draft constitution recommended to it by the Constitution Commission. Wednesday's public meeting in Suva, announced below, is part of the educational process.

"As we eagerly await the appointment of Fiji’s first Constituent Assembly in January 2013, the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum, in partnership with the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and USP’s School of Government, Development and International Affairs will be hosting a public lecture on December 5th, 2012 on the theme “The Nature of a Constituent Assembly”.

"Renowned co…