Clerk clarifies media access to Parliament pre-sittings

The Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei, has clarified that the media should have access to Parliamentary pre-sitting briefings.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer following  Parliament's pre sitting on Monday, Tiatia clarified that the media are allowed inside the sessions to observe the discussion of bills but are forbidden to take photos.

"You are still allowed inside," Tiatia said when asked by the Samoa Observer.

But reporters cannot report on discussions in the pre-sitting sessions. 

Tiatia said the media are still allowed in the room. He admitted that a misunderstanding amongst the Office of the Legislative Assembly employees may be the reason reporters are currently being held outside Parliament.

Tiatia said no reporter should be prohibited from entering Parliament during pre-sitting sessions, adding that there continue to be reserved seats for the media inside the conference room.

In January a reporter from the Samoa Observer and a local TV station were asked by the Legislative Assembly's Sergeant at Arms, Luatalo Setima, to leave a pre-Parliamentary session.

The sittings, held on the eve of every Parliamentary session, give Members of Parliament an opportunity to raise questions and seek clarifications on upcoming proposed bills.

Since the sessions started, reporters and media representatives were allowed to sit in and report on the discussions between M.Ps and the heads of Government Ministries who are present to explain proposed measures.

At the time, Luatalo explained that the ban was made with the intention that whatever is discussed would eventually be raised in Parliament, therefore making it public. 

Parliament's pre-sitting on Monday discussed the Accident Compensation Amendment Bill 2020, introduced by the Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) of Accident Compensation Corporation (A.C.C.), Muliagatele Makerita Matafeo.

The Tobacco Control Amendment Bill 2020, introduced by Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, Director-General of the Ministry of Health, will also be discussed.

And finally, two bills will be introduced by the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development C.E.O., Afamasaga Faauiga Mulitalo.

Those two bills are the Internal Affairs Amendment Bill 2020 and the Ministry of Women's Affairs Amendment Bill 2020.

A supplementary budget will also be tackled by lawmakers.

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