Summary of Deliberations in the Legislative Assembly of Tonga on Monday 5th of October 2015.
Monday 5th October 2015
After morning devotion which was lead by the People’s Representative No. 15 for Vavaú and Roll Call, the Acting Speaker welcomed the Members. The Minister of Police, Prisons and Fire Services reported that there had been an unfortunate incident in which a house burnt down and resulted in a loss of life.
The People’s Representative for Tongatapu No.4 spoke regarding national IDs and the renewal of it which requires payment and the Acting Prime Minister asked if the matter could be referred to government to deal with. The People’s Representative for Haápai 13 was concerned over his petition but the Acting Speaker stated that the matter had been referred to government and the Acting Prime Minister stated that it has been referred to them to deal with.
The Nobles’ Representative for Éua spoke on the lease of the wharf and also raised with government about the legal status of it being leased from government to a government division. The People’s Representative for Haápai 12 raised his concern over the shortage of fuel at Haápai and he also informed that in two weeks time Haápai will have depleted its fuel supply. He pleaded with the Acting Speaker and Acting Prime Minister to deal with this problem. He also stated that the outer islands is most affected by this shortage of fuel. He continued in the hope that government will assist in setting up a petrol station in the islands.
The Nobles’ Representative No. 1 for Haápai stated that the matter should be looked into and whether government could offer urgent assistance. If the problem is that they cannot afford financially to have the drums transported then maybe government could subsidise the cost for transportation and that they get reimbursed later. The Acting Prime Minister stated to let them look into it. With regards to the renewal of national identification card, the Acting Prime Minister informed renewal is free, it is replacing a lost card that has to be paid for.
The People’s Representative for Vavaú 15 stated that there was already a depot for oil tankers at Haápai but Haápai complained about it. The Member suggested that that depot be looked into. The People’s Representative No. 12 for Haápai thanked Vavaú 15 but he also stated that Haápai is entitled to be assisted and that their concerns be made vocal in the Legislative Assembly. The Member also continued with regards to not meeting the deadline in the cyclone reconstruction.
The Communications Bill 2015 was read in its first reading and was passed in a vote of 11.
The Acting Prime Minister asked if section 189 just handed out could be inserted if the House approves. The People’s Representative for Haápai 12 requested that the matter be stood down to the Whole House Committee.
The Communications Commission Act 2015 was read in its first reading and was passed in a vote of 11. After the second reading, the People’s Representative for Tongatapu 9 asked that the matter be stood down to the Whole House Committee.
The Noble’s Representative No. 1 for Haápai asked to have the matters dealt with reported so that government may move onto their bills.
The Parliamentary Constituency Reports for 10, 12, 5 and 8 was put to a vote and passed in a vote of 14.
The Annual Reports of the Commission for Public Relations for the period 2011/2012, 2012/2013 was put to a vote and was passed in a vote of 14.
The Receivership Bill 2015 (no.8/2015) was put to a second reading. It was passed in a vote of 11 and no objections.
It was put to a third reading and it was passed in a vote of 10.
The House proceeded to the second reading of the Income Tax (Amendment) Act 2015 (No. 9/2015). It was passed in a vote of 12.
It was put to a third reading and passed.
The House reverted to the Whole House Committee.
WHOLE HOUSE COMMITTEE
The People’s Representative for Vavaú 15 moved to have section 22A removed it was supported by People’s Representative for Tongatapu 4.
Bill No. 10 Member’s Bill, an Bill to amend the Income Tax Act (No.2) 2015 was put to a vote, and it was passed in a vote of 12.
Bill No.11 Member’s Bill, a Bill to amend the Legislative Assembly Retirement Fund Act 2015 was put to a vote and was passed in a vote of 12.
Deliberations proceeded to the Communications Bill 2015.
The Nobles’ Representative No. 1 for Tongatapu raised his concern over part 7 page 63 section 109 and mandatory filtering. The Noble was concerned because he was familiar with filtering of movies but no there is a different authority.
The Nobles’ Representative No. 2 for Haápai raised his concern over religion and section 100 relating to pornography. The People’s Representative for Tongatapu 4 supported this Bill but he was concerned over the domain name .to and the fact that it was sometimes used by websites of inappropriate nature (section 8). The Member went on to sections 100, 101, 103, 104 and 105. He stated that these sections are similar. He was also concerned over the use of “may” under the Act. He also questioned the operators and that they should maintain their records up to a period of 5 years.
The Acting Prime Minister spoke about filtering the internet. He also stated that the filtering will be carried out by the two communications companies here in Tonga. At the same time another company will buy the exclusive rights for that service and they are to negotiate with the internet companies to expand into filtering the website.
The People’s Representative for Tongatapu 4 asked if he maintaining of records by communications companies could be incorporated into the Regulations. The Nobles’ Representative No. 1 for Tongatapu queried the filtering process and tapping into communication it seems FBI like. The People’s Representative for Tongatapu 4 assisted by raising whether telephone conversations will be recorded. The Acting Prime Minister clarified that only a judge may grant the power to do so. The People’s Representative for Vavaú 15 supported the Billl.
The Nobles’ Representative for Éua asked if section 100 could be removed because Tongans are free to worship. And if religion will not be affected than it is fine, and section 170 is in relation to searching premises. The Minister offered assistance but the Noble queried the power given to the Minister and Courts.
The Communications Bill 2015 was put forward and to a vote and passed in a vote of 13.
Deliberations proceeded to clarification of The Communications Commission Act 2015. The Acting Prime Minister informed that this is the body that could relay communication to all parts of the islands of Tonga.
The People’s Representative for Tongatapu 9 thanked the Acting Prime Minister for introducing this bill because it reflects good governance and democracy. The Member began with page 6 on the word “aleapeau” to read as “aleapau”. He then proceeded to section 28 and the need to have an Act in place to dissolve the commission.
The Acting Prime Minister explained that that method of meeting is prescribed for in the Act and intended and to utilise modern technology in conducting meetings.
The People’s Representative for Tongatapu 9 was also concerned with the power of a member to call a meeting but The Acting Prime Minister informed that this was based on the need that there not be any disagreements.
The Nobles’ Representative No. 1 for Tongatapu raised his concern over the powers vested in this Commission as stipulated under section 28. The People’s Representative for Vavaú 15 he supports this Bill and is not too concerned over the powers of the Minister as the Act provides for filtering under check and balance. The Member did however question the Commissioner as set out in the interpretation but it is not set out under section 8 but the Acting Prime Minister corrected and stated that it was section 7 and not section 8.
The People’s Representative for Tongatapu 4 about the requirements of an ICT expert who must have international experience. The Member was concerned if the requirements were too high and no one would be suitable for the position.
The Acting Prime Minister stated that the idea is crucial and that government will look into it.
The Communications Commission Bill with amendments was put to a vote and passed in a vote of 16. The Committee reverted to the House and the House adjourned.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY IS ADJOURNED TO 10:00AM TUESDAY 6TH OCTOBER 2015.