Fiji Labour Party MPs stayed away from deliberations on six Bills in the House of Representatives today.
The government introduced these Bills without complying with the notice requirements under the House Standing Orders, said FLP Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.
Standing orders require a minister introducing a Bill to publish notice of his or her intention to do so in the Gazette not fewer than 30 days before the sitting at which the Bill is to be read a first time, Mr Chaudhry said.
The Bills deal with issue of passports; the penal code, evidence in civil proceedings, Patents Act, High Court Act, and claims for damages in respect of deaths caused by the negligence of other persons.
“This government has repeatedly breached the notice requirement provisions in the standing orders despite our objections in the Business Committee of the House. We tolerated this during the initial months but they seem to have made a habit of it as if the relevant Standing Order can be ignored at will,” said Mr. Chaudhry.
Every Bill that now comes before the house is pushed through without due notice. Government must learn that parliament is not to be taken for granted. They must learn to stay within the Standing Orders, except in cases of emergency where a time line has to be met to satisfy constitutional or legal requirements.
One of the Bills now being pushed through was shelved by the People’s Coalition Government in 2000 on the recommendations of the relevant Sector Committee.
This Bill seriously disadvantages dependents of deceased persons from claiming damaged based on future earnings of their deceased provider. It is designed to amend an existing provision in favour of employers and insurance companies.
“Our request to have this Bill referred to the relevant Sector Committee of the House was refused by government, which seems to want to ride rough shod over the rights of the ordinary person in favour of big business,” Mr Chaudhry said.
“We have to protest the abuse of suspension of the Standing Orders provision which they are using time and again to push Bills through the House without sufficient notice,” Mr. Chaudhry said.