Speaker grilled over long M.P. speeches

Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai has questioned the application of Standing Orders to certain Members of Parliament, who went over their time limit when giving speeches during House sessions.  

Speaking during the Parliament session on Tuesday, the Salega East M.P. sought clarification from the House Speaker, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi.

“It’s evident that starting last week, respective Members of Parliament speeches are going on three hours and I want to understand whether [Speaker] has set aside Standing Orders affording each Member [30] minutes for their speech," queried Olo in Parliament. “It is unusual to me the [lengthy] time given to the Members of Parliament."

In response, Leaupepe said these are the Members' final speeches before Parliament is dissolved. 

“You (Olo) were accorded the same opportunity. As you know, no one stopped or intervened when you gave your speech. 

“These are [the Members] final speeches to their respective constituencies on matters that were deliberated in Parliament in line with development of the constituencies. 

“Also this affords the opportunity for the M.P.’s to acknowledge and thank their constituents and their Districts; nonetheless the Standing Order on time limits still applies. 

"However, due to a number of interferences during the [Associate Minister’s] speech, hence the lengthy speech."

Olo raised his concerns in the middle of a speech by the Associate Minister of Women, Community and Social Development Salausa Dr John Ah Ching, who initially gave his speech last Friday morning. 

Member of Parliament Mulipola Laki was the first to take the floor on Friday morning, after which the Associate Minister started his speech, which continued after the morning break until Parliament closed midday last Friday.   

Consequently, Salausa continued his speech on Tuesday morning when the Parliament convened. 

The Speaker urged the Members of Parliament to be considerate of the Standing Orders which limits the time of speeches to 30 minutes. 

Olo acknowledged the Speaker’s response: “Apparently [some] Members of Parliament who have been in office for five years yet this is the first time they have opted to make speeches during the Assembly. 

“It appears they are worried about the [upcoming election]."

Then Member of Parliament for Urban West, Faumuina Wayne Fong, moved a motion to give another two days for Salausa to continue his speech. 

Speaker Leaupepe rejected the “sarcastic” motion by Faumuina. 

“The Speaker will not accept a sarcastic motion which is not only insincere but also rude. Do you think the Speaker is stupid?” he asked. 

Faumuina attempted to respond, but the Speaker refused further rebuttal and ordered Faumuina to sit down. 

“[Faumuina] you were barely here for five minutes and you have the [audacity] to make such a motion. 

There is a difference between a Chief who was just bestowed his title yesterday and a Senior Chief, so be considerate of those aspects of our culture,” concluded Speaker Leaupepe.

According to Standing Order 191, the time-limit of speeches on proceedings in the Assembly and in Committees of the Whole House except as provided by Standing Order 89 (Limitation of Debate) shall be in accordance with the limitations set out in the following:

On the Financial Statement (Appropriation Bill) 30 minutes
On any Motion or any amendment: 20 minutes
On a Motion to adjourn the Assembly for Urgent Public Matters/Business: 20 minutes
Minister first speaking: 20 minutes
Any other member: 10 minutes
On the Report of a Parliamentary Committee: 15 minutes
On consideration of any‚ Paper under Standing Order 53: 15 minutes
On election of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker: 10 minutes
On the Short Title, Clause, or Schedule of a Bill, or any amendment thereto: 15 minutes

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