Summary of Deliberations in the Legislative Assembly of Tonga
Tuesday 20th of October 2015
After the Prime Minister lead the House in prayer and the roll was taken the Speaker welcomed the Members.
The Criminal Offences (Amendment) Act was put to its first reading and was passed in a vote of 16 and no objections.
After the Bill was put to its second reading the People’s Representative for Vavaú 15 moved to have the Bill referred to the Whole House Committee.
The Magistrates Court (Amendment) Act 2015 was put to its first reading and was passed in a vote of 15 and no objections.
The Bill was put to it second reading and the Nobles’ Representative for Éua moved to have the Bill referred to the Whole House Committee.
The Evidence (Amendment) Act 2015 was put to its first reading and was passed in a vote of 14 and only 1 objection.
After the second reading the People’s Representative No. 4 for Tongatapu moved to have the Bill referred to the Whole House Committee.
The Illicit Drugs Control (Amendment) Act 2015 was put to its first reading and was passed in a vote of 15 and no objection.
After the second reading, the People’s Representative No. 4 for Tongatapu moved to have the Bill referred to the Whole House Committee.
Deliberations proceeded to Travel Report No. 6 by the Speaker and was passed in a vote of 19.
The next item was an invitation to travel to the International Conference on Family Planning to Indonesia.
The Nobles’ Representative No. 1 for Vavaú spoke on the importance on utilising services for such travels and he is not denying the Member’s suitability and experience but it should be referred to organisations such as Family Health.
People’s Representative No. 2 for Tongatapu questioned how is it that the travel invitation is directed at the Member when all invitations should be addressed to the Speaker. The People’s Representative for Tongatapu 9 spoke regarding his travel to a meeting with the Nobles’ Representative of Niua where he Chaired the Committee on Gender. The Member supported that the Noble travel on the invitation.
The Prime Minister supported that the Noble travel on the invitation and he also supported the move by the Vavaú Nobles’ Representative that travel invitations are addressed to the Speaker.
The People’s Representative No.4 for Tongatapu raised his concern about those that make direct contact with those abroad to invite themselves.
The invitation was passed in a vote of 18 with 1 objection.
The House reverted to the Whole House Committee and deliberations began with the Minister of Justice providing clarifications for the Criminal Offences (Amendment) 2015 Bill. The Minister stated that this was because of an application made by the Court. The Nobles’ Representative asked whether this amendment covered theft using the internet.
The People’s Representative spoke of an experience he had when he defended an accused person charged with theft and the accused was discharged because the accused had deposited funds into an account. The Member stated that the current legislation is sufficient. He asked that this be set aside until a later date. The Nobles’ Representative raised his concern over section 2 of the Bill. He questioned whether the Ministry of Police would be in a position to prosecute as they are not equipped for they are not skilled in IT.
The Noble suggested that the penalty should reflect the discrepancy with theft using the internet.
The Minister of Justice clarified that this Bill is in response to technology and a Bill is yet to be drafted in relation to that. This is added onto the legislation so that the Judge can fully perform his/her duties so that the Court can execute its function.
The Nobles’ Representative for Niua supported the Minister and he agreed with the idea but then the Copy Right and Computer Crimes Act are already in place and he asked for further clarification from the Minister. The Minister stated that all legislation is relevant. The People’s Representative No. 4 for Tongatapu provided clarification of all the legislation. By section 144 the People’s Representative No.9 supported this bill and thanked government for submitting this piece of legislation in time.
The Criminal Offences (Amendment) 2015 Bill was passed in a vote 15 with 1 objection.
Lunch Break >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The House reverted to the Whole House Committee immediately following the lunch break where the Magistrates Court (Amendment) Bill 2015 was clarified.
The Magistrates Court (Amendment) 2015 Bill was passed in a vote of 10 with no objections.
The Committee proceeded to the Illicit Drugs Control (Amendment) Act 2015. The People’s Representative No. 4 for Tongatapu questioned there being no requirement for corroborating evidence of a rape victim apart from the evidence of the victim.
After the Minister of Justice provided clarification the Member was happy with the explanation but the People’s Representative No. 15 for Vavaú was not happy with this amendment because he believes that the onus of proof should still remain with the prosecution.
The Nobles’ Representative for Éua stated that he believes that the legislation should remain in its current state especially jury trials because of the victim. Both parties are required to carry out their parts and we should not make any legislation that will affect judicial rights and the rights of the victim and he also pleaded with government that it is not yet time to introduce this piece of legislation.
The Nobles’ Representative for Niua stated that this is a breach of Clause 4 of the Constitution and it differentiates between citizens of the country and Member of Parliament. He apologised to the Minister of Justice because it seems that they are not in support but he is concerned over the legality of the matter.
The Prime Minister raised his concern over this legislation because the Court is in difficulty and he was not denying the victim and prosecution of their rights but he is most concerned because of the sensitivity of the offence and the court should be trusted.
But the People’s Representative for Vavaú 15 stated, that the Courts are trusted and it is the prosecution’s duty to prove beyond reasonable doubt the allegations in the case.
The Minister went on to say that this is a sensitive offence and if the House feels that the matter should be set aside then government would have no objection to it. The People’s Representative for Tongatapu 4 that this legislation does not prohibit the production of corroborative evidence.
The Minister went on to state that there are cases in the courts where corroborative evidence is required and there are some cases where corroborative evidence is not required.
It was passed that this Bill be returned to government for further vetting.
Deliberations proceeded to the Illicit Drugs Control (Amendment) 2015 Bill. The People’s Representative No. 4 for Tongatapu questioned the conversion from ounces to grams and what would happen if the substance found would be less than 28 grams.
The Minister of Finance clarified that 1 ounce is equivalent to 28 grams. The Member questioned what would happen if the substance found would be less than 28 grams.
The Nobles’ Representative for Éua asked why could they not use both grams and ounces because both units are still being used worldwide.
The Nobles’ Representative No. 3 for Tongatapu stated that they should not use it based on the assumption that it is needed by New Zealand and Australia. He also went on to state that concern should be given to the inhalation of ADOS and petrol.
The Nobles’ Representative No. 1 for Haápai supported the suggestion by the Nobles’ Representative for Éua to use both unit measurements. The Minister of Revenue stated that government has already approved for the metric system to be used.
The Minister of Finance stated that this is an amendment to a system already approved by law. But the Nobles’ Representative N.1 for Vavaú questioned who has the most power in dealing with illicit drugs. But the People’s Representative for Vavaú 15 clarified that there is a need for the legislation to be consistent and if there is any amendments then other legislation would need to be amended.
The People’s Representative for Tongatapu 4 asked that the Principle Act and the amended section be brought. The Nobles’ Representative for Haápai stated that the reason for the amendment should have been clearly explained.
It was put to a vote and not passed in a vote of 13 and no objection.
The Constituent Visit Report for Tongatapu 1 was discussed. The Prime Minister who is also the Representative for Tongatapu 1 clarified the proposals made by Tongatapu 1 and its Council. The Prime Minister thanked the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the No. Nobles’ Representative for Vavaú for the assistance in the Kolomotuá District. He stated that the problem encountered by his constituent was similar to that faced by other constituents mainly flooding.
The Prime Minister also stated that some of the competitions for the South Pacific Games are also being considered for his constituent.
The Nobles’ Representative No. 1 for Vavaú was concerned as there are no religious committees involved in the Constituent’s working committees as this is the centre for religion such as Mount Zion being on this location.
The Member was concerned with Asians residing in the area as well as operating their retail businesses and the concern was whether anything was being done about it.
The People’s Representative for Tongatapu 9 suggested a national reform programme to be held because theft and housebreaking is becoming prominent. The Member stressed the need for the nation to go through reformation so that Tonga is still Tonga as respect from Tongans is gradually disappearing. The Prime Minister moved asked that the voting on his report be adjourned so that he may respond to the prominence in Housebreaking and Theft.
The Committee reverted to the House and sitting was adjourned to Wednesday 21st of October 2015 at 10:00AM