Govt withdraws Heritage Bill brought under Order 51 following requests from Opposition
Speaker commends Govt and Opposition for bipartisanship

Govt withdraws Heritage Bill brought under Order 51 following requests from Opposition

Speaker commends Govt and Opposition for bipartisanship

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 13/09/2023
Photo: Parliament of the Republic of Fiji

In the spirit of bipartisanship, the government has withdrawn the Heritage Bill that was brought under Parliamentary Standing Order 51 following requests by the Opposition.

While tabling the Bill, Attorney General Siromi Turaga said the Bill provides the domestic application of the World Heritage Convention.

He says a Heritage Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Affairs in 2016 and to the Parliamentary Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights again in 2021 but it lapsed both times.

Turaga says it is evident that to bring forth and pass a law specifically dedicated Fiji's protection of national heritage and and world heritage sites has been too long a journey and there is not excuse to prolong somethings that will benefit Fiji in this present time and age but also future generations.

Opposition Whip Alvick Maharaj has urged that the Bill be returned to the Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights and finish the work that was started regarding consultation because it will have a drastic effect on the people of Levuka.

He says when he was the Chair of the Committee, they had gone to Levuka for consultation and people had requested for Levuka to be removed as a World Heritage Site because they were unable to do renovation works.

FijiFirst MP Faiyaz Koya says they need to realise that this Bill does not have anything to do with politics and has to do with Fiji.

He says by use of Order 51, they are circumnavigating somethings that are required for the Bill to be full and happy.

Koya says as a current member of the Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights with the consent of his chair, they will do their utmost to try and ensure that it is done really quickly.

Koya says let's do it in a way they cover all the bases and so that they do not have to keep coming back for an amendment.

FijiFirst MP Mosese Bulitavu says there is nothing urgent in the Bill and has requested that it be referred to the Committee.

While responding to the Opposition's request and withdrawing the Bill, Turaga says they on the government side are listening and agree that through the ventilation of the Bill through the Committee, they want to ensure that it comes in a good shape and covers all the inadequacies that was there before.

Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu has commended both the Government and the Opposition for the historic bipartisanship as the Government allowed an urgent question on the waterborne disease in Ba to be asked on Monday and for withdrawing a Bill.

He says Deputy Prime Minister Manoa Kamikamica had earlier called for bipartisanship in parliament and it was echoed by the Opposition Whip during the Parliamentary Business Committee meeting last week.

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