A petition calling for a dismissal of Vava’u 15 MP, Samiu Vaipulu was told to return to the petitioners’ on the grounds their demands are outside the mandate of the Legislative Assembly.
In a report tabled by the Privilege Committee and read in Parliament earlier today, the Committee also found the wishes of petitioners to be in inconsistent with the Constitution, the Legislative Assembly’s Act, its Standing Orders and also the Electoral Act.
In addressing the House, Interim Chair of the Privilege Committee, Lord Fusitu’a says this is the conclusion the Members have reached after considering the petition.
“What petitioners requested are outside of the Parliament’s mandate. Their demand relates to the Constitution and the Legislative Assembly’s Act, and other legislations such as the Order and Public Places Act…this is also not in line with the Parliament’s role and functions,” said Lord
Fusitu’a further points out the petition itself also fails to use appropriate language and hence the return of the petition.
Meanwhile the Minister of Infrastructure Hon. ‘Etuate Lavulavu found the Committee’s decision and the procedures taken against the petition inconsistent and thus claimed something fishy was going on.
He said a petition on him was recently tabled and read in Parliament about complaints lodged against his road construction programme.
Lavulavu argued that with his case the petition was read out when it should have been referred to handle by the Justice Ministry. Such announcement according to Lavulavu had somehow tarnished his reputation.
He said it is the people’s constitutional rights to submit any petition to Parliament. Therefore he thought it is not in compliance with the Constitution and related legislation yet Parliament can amend the Constitution or other pieces of legislation.
Meanwhile the Speaker of Parliament, Lord Tu’ivakano maintains there are rules and procedures the Committee must follow and it’s not his business to dictate the House’s procedures
Lavulavu also maintained no such clause in the House’s Standing Order implies for further police investigation into allegation of possible forgery committed.
“According to the House’s Standing Order clause 121, for submission of any petition to Parliament, it must be handwritten well, typed and published. Three or more persons must sign it…and there is no provision that says for further police investigation,” explained Lavulavu.
Ha’apai 13 MP who tabled the petition also disagreed with the return of the petition and claimed the Committee is being biased with their decision. He was also disappointed with the Committee’s claim of possible forgery committed.
On that note, Lord Tu’ivakano says in precedent cases petition are returned so it is further
scrutinized to ensure appropriate language is used and deem fit for resubmission to Parliament.
He also mentioned it is a normal practice carried out by any Committee to verify the signatures and to ensure no forgery was committed.