Former Secretary-General to Parliament, Mary Chapman says Fijians and the Members of Parliament do not get enough time to go through proposed laws before its first reading in parliament while Leader of Government in Parliament, Inia Seruiratu says they have plans in place and have their own priorities in terms of bills, legislation and regulations.
Chapman made these comments during a panel discussion on ‘State of Democracy’ organized by the NGO Coalition for Human Rights to take stock of the country’s achievements, challenges and discuss on ways forward for Fiji to mark 50 years of Independence.
Chapman says previously MPs would have received the bill 21 days before the first reading.
She says some of the orders, particularly Order 51 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament has been abused as it is often suspended and adds they might as well do away with it.
Standing Order 51 deals with a motion for a bill to proceed without delay.
The motion that Parliament consider the proposed law without delay may be moved without notice.
Time limits apply to the debate on the bill during its passage and they are not referred to a standing committee or other committee of Parliament.
The former Secretary-General says before there were all these timelines and now the MPs get about 2 days to go through the bill.
Chapman also adds that it was the Secretary General's responsibility to ensure that MPs get their copies 21 days before the first week in the house.
Meanwhile, Leader of Government in Parliament, Inia Seruiratu says the government has its planning and the sequence of the bills that come into parliament.
He adds that everybody is free to make their own assumptions and comments but government has the business to deliver services to the people and that remains the focus.
We have also sent questions to the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. He is yet to respond.
Stay tuned for the latest news on our radio stations