“Democracy’s Way Forward”: Facing many challenges in a rapidly changing world, our parliaments must seize the opportunity to strengthen and revitalise democracy is this year’s theme for the 51st Presiding Officer’s and Clerks Conference in Melbourne, Australia from the 4th to the 8th of July,2022.

The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Lord Fakafanua joins Speakers and Clerks from around the Pacific, New Zealand and Australian States and Federal Parliament in the conference where they will present papers, share experiences and learn from each other during the conference.

In the opening day of the Conference, Presiding officers and the Clerks elected the President of the Victoria Legislative Council. Hon. Nazih Elasmar to Chair of the conference and the Speaker of the Solomon Islands Hon. Patteson John Oti as his deputy.

President of the Victoria Legislative Council. Hon. Nazih Elasmar, welcoming delegates.

Part of the opening ceremony was a welcome to country and a smoking ceremony.

Traditional Smoking ceremony

The Presiding Officers and Clerks will present papers in various topics relating to the Conference theme. Lord Fakafanua will be presenting on the topic “PARLIAMENT’S ENGAGMENT WITH THE COMMUNITY” in Tonga.

The Keynote address of the conference was delivered by the Honourable Tony Smith, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives. He remined the Presiding Officers and the Clerks that “Democracy is more than just an Election, it’s what comes after the election”. Reflecting on his years as Speaker, he told the conference that Speakers and Clerks are joint custodian of the Chambers and he always want the Clerks to offer frank and fearless advice.

Topics covered in the first day of the conference included Managing risks and strengthening parliamentary scrutiny of government and other functions in times of change, and Security and management of parliamentary precincts, including public and media access, intrusive powers of law enforcement agencies.

Lord Speaker raising a question to the Speaker of the New Zealand Parliament

The Speaker is ac companied by Deputy Clerk Sione Vikilani and ‘Amelia Taufa.
Participants will also present a country report.

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