News and Comments Tuesday 4 September 2012

AUSTRALIA'S CLEAR STATEMENT ON FIJI. ABC's Bruce Hill interviewed Parliamentary Secretary for the Pacific Richard Marles. This is what he had to say on Fiji: “Fiji has made some positive steps forward this year. We've said this repeatedly and it is an important process that undergoing with the Constitutional Commission which is being chaired by Professor Yash Ghai. But there remains more work to be done in terms of democracy fully returning to Fiji, having a freedom of press and having the totality of human rights that you would expect in a democracy.

Now until that is the case, it is difficult to have Fiji come back to the Forum, but it is right to acknowledge that some steps in the right direction have been made and to calibrate a response and this is how it was decided to do it and I think it's very appropriate.”

CHRIS PRYDE ON THE DUTIES OF HIS OFFICE. Cameron Slater from the Whaleoil Blog visited Fiji last week. He interviewed Christopher Pryde about Fiji's judiciary. It's well worth listening to on YouTube.

COMMISSION TIDBITS. Commissioner Prof Satendra Nandan said the new constitution will need to be regarded as a sacred document — created for the people by the people of Fiji so that no one can destroy it.. Commissioner Peni Moore appealed to people not to be swayed by groups feeding them information to submit to the Constitution Commission. "Looking at the submissions, we can clearly tell that most people are being fed with issues to submit. When we ask them for the reasons [for the] submissions ... they failed to give answers."These are issues that affect the land, reinstatement of the Great Council of Chiefs and the declaring of the country to be a Christian state to name a few. It is sad to see people being used for the benefit of some groups." Retired school Anand Balram in Rakiraki suggested Fiji should move away from the Westminster system of democracy and develop its own.keeping in mind our own needs and requirements." He urged his fellow citizens to “stop fighting over petty issues and instead concentrate on developing the country. He also wanted people to embrace Fiji's diversity of culture and religion and a reduction in the number of seats in Parliament.

A PEOPLE'S ADVOCACY COMMISSION? The difference between a reasoned anti-Bainimarma blog and the hysterical can be seen in this thoughtful piece posted on Fiji Today. I think the idea has considerable merit and should to considered together with ideas on an Ombudsman's Office.

“As the Constitution Commission tours the country they are faced  a large .of submissions about
matters that are outside the scope of their brief.  These submissions, while irrelevant to the commission, show up a need in our society that has not been met. The average citizen of Fiji has very little access to social justice and has misread the purpose of the Commission.What is needed is a "Peoples Advocate Commission" that permanently tours like the Constitution Commission and listens to submissions from the general public about problems of their every day life. If a villager is refused a benefit they do not have the resources to challenge the relevant Government Department or to seek a second opinion.

“The PAC should have sufficient staff and authority to assist in everyday issues and report
back to Government on failings of Government Departments to fulfill their duties towards the
average citizen.  They should work with those with serious concerns, as their advocate, and aid
them in obtaining services and benefits they are entitled to

“The PAC could compile a list of suggested development projects ranked by those that will
bring the most benefit to those worst affected. What we are seeing with the Constitution
Commission submissions are people seeking a voice for their daily concerns. This has never been
successfully addressed in our country.I suggest that after the Constitution Commission
is over a Peoples Advocate Commission is formed and continues to tour to redress everyday
problems on a general and individual basis.”

UNION SPLIT FROM FLP LOOKS INCREASINGLY LIKELY. The President of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Daniel Urai said the representatives of all the unions affiliated with FTUC have decided that their support for the Fiji Labour Party should stop. Urai said the Congress which is made up of union representatives made the decision a while ago and they are now looking at the next step.He said FTUC is also considering forming a political party.Urai said FTUC which formed the FLP believes a party needs to be in place that looks after workers’ rights and interests.

In an earlier statement, the Fiji Labour Party said there were no proposals, motions or submissions received from FTUC’s Felix Anthony or Daniel Urai on the plight of the workers for the party’s Annual Delegates Conference. The FLP said it is sheer hypocrisy for Anthony and Urai to accuse the FLP of not representing workers’ interests when the finger is clearly pointing at them. The Labour Party statement goes on to say that Anthony and Urai need to be told that merely attending overseas conferences every other month does not constitute representing workers’ rights.

Urai said the FLP can say whatever it wants but they have made their stand on the Labour Party and will leave it at that.

PSA REFUSES TO COMMENT. Fiji's largest trade union for civil servants, the Public Service Association is refusing to comment on whether it has also pulled away from the Fiji Labour Party (FLP).

METHODIST ANNUAL LEVY set at $15 a person.

E-TICKETING STARTS TODAY. The first phase of electronic ticketing for buses has started today. 


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