THE Privilege Committee has determined that Vava’u 16 constituency MP ‘Etuate Lavulavu has a case to answer to in Parliament.
However an impeachment trial is to be decided through a vote in Parliament later.
The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Lord Tu’ivakano announced this in Parliament after lunch break today.
Lord Tu’ivakano says the Privilege Committee’s report number 12/2015 is the Committee’s findings on enquiries they had been carried out for almost three months. The impeachment motion was tabled in Parliament on August 19, 2015.
“Parliament’s work is carried out according to the House Standing Orders. And it’s the House’s role to screen documents that are tabled in Parliament including petition and impeachment motion.
This was exactly what the Committee did, they consider and make recommendation on the matter. The Privilege Committee’s report is the results of their enquiry. It recommended a prima facie case is warranted against Lavulavu,” explained Lord Tu’ivakano.
Lavulavu who is also the Hon. Minister of Infrastructure and Tourism contested the Speaker’s decision and insisted for justice to be served and for his reply to accusations against him be read in Parliament.
It was met with resistance from the Speaker who repeatedly reminded him these cannot be made public unless an impeachment trial takes place.
Lord Tu’ivakano also says the supporting documents including an independent auditor’s report, which Hon. Lavulavu is adamant to make public – will not be read in Parliament.
Lord Speaker says those documents could only be produced should an impeachment is approved.
The Hon. Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva also had reservations about the Speaker’s decision. He wanted Lavulavu’s reply made public in order for him to make an informed decision when the House votes on it.
The Speaker says it is a waste of the House's time and the taxpayer's money.
In response the Interim Chair of the Privilege Committee, Lord Fusitu’a says the contents of Lavulavu’s reply is also comprised in the Committee’s report.
Lord Fusitu’a points out the House should have voted on the matter before but a plea was made for the accused right of reply based on natural justice. Lord Fusitu'a says this was accomodated and Lavulavu produced evidence and supporting documents to the Privilege Committee.
He adds their Committee has fulfilled all the job assigned to them that includes enquiring of the accused.
“Now we have complied with clause 87 of the Legislative Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, which was carried out independently to serve justice. The Committee Members have agreed to fulfil the requirements of the House Rules and the Constitution,” explained Lord Fusitu’a.
Parliament has now received the result of the enquiry and the Committee’s recommendation, what’s left now is for the House to vote on it.
The Prime Minister called on Parliament to delay the vote on the impeachment motion until tomorrow.