Motion denied: committee's report approved without debate
A motion to discuss the findings of a Special Parliamentary Committee into the public's views of bills reconfiguring the court system was denied on Tuesday before Parliament passed the proposals into law.
The motion was tabled by the former Deputy Prime Minister and Lotofaga Member of Parliament, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, who had also sought more time for Members of Parliament to read through the Committee's report.
Neither request was granted and because of that, Members of Parliament moved to the detailed reading of Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, Land and Titles Court Bill 2020 and Judicature Bill 2020, with changes by the Committee, based on a copy they had just been handed in the morning.
The Committee's report was tabled by the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee, Gatoloaifa’ana Amataga Gidlow. It was their findings from the public consultation they carried out on the bills. Once the report was tabled, Gatoloaifaana moved a motion for Parliament to approve the report.
But Fiame intervened before the motion was put to the Assembly.
Fiame cited section 107 sub-section 3 of the Standing Orders and asked to amend the motion to allow members to consider the Committee’s report.
The Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi, told Fiame that there was no request from the Committee to amend their motion.
Leaupepe assured the veteran M.P. that he will return to her matter after the motion was put to the Legislative Assembly.
But Fiame insisted, calling for clarity from the Speaker.
In response, the Speaker said Parliament has to move on with its work.
Fiame though would not budge, asking that for her request to amend the motion be recorded in the hansard.
“It appears that the motion from the Committee cannot be amended despite what the Standing Orders says,” she said.
“Whether the motion is accepted or rejected, that is the decision from the House.”
The Speaker assured Fiame he will return to her request afterwards.
The question was then put to the Assembly whether they accept the Committee’s report or not.
It was met by a yes from the floor while Fiame loudly replied no.
When the Speaker indicated that for Parliament to move on to deliberate the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020 in detail, Fiame took the floor again. She reminded the Speaker of his assurance that he will address her request.
The veteran M.P. for Lotofaga lifted up the thick report and pointed out that the members have just been given the Committee’s report.
She also noted that there are matters raised by the Chairperson of the Committee that is not in the report.
“How do you go about in dealing with that?” she asked.
But the Speaker ruled that a decision has been made, adding that the recommendations will be addressed together during the deliberation in detail of the amendments.
According to the Minister of Justice Courts, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u in his ministerial statement, the majority of the country supports the three bills.
He told Parliament that from the public consultation carried out by the Special Parliamentary Committee they concluded that 84 per cent of the people supported the changes.
Only three per cent of them were unsure about the bills, he said and the remaining 13 per cent had opposed the legislation.