Gov’t plans royal audience after lawyer advises king has no right to judge legislation

    Vakai ki he konga taupotu ki lalo 'o e pēsi' ni 'oku 'i ai ha fakamatala faka-Tonga ki he ongoongo' ni

    The government of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva has planned an audience with the king after a New Zealand legal expert advised the king had no right to judge the merits of legislation passed by Parliament.

    A government spokesperson said the plan was made after cabinet accepted the New Zealand Lawyer Dr Rodney Harrison’s recommendations.

    Hon. Pōhiva told Kaniva News in a recent interview that six Amendment Bills were submitted by the Tu’ivakanō government in 2014 and were passed by Parliament.

    However, when submitted to the king in Privy Council for his approval and signature he rejected the new laws.

    These Amendments included Acts of Constitution of Tonga (Amendment Bill) 2014, Judicial and Legal Service Commission 2014, Tonga Police (Amendement Bill) 2014, National Spatial Planning and Management (Amendment Bill) 2014, Magistrate Court Amendment Bill 2014 and Public Service Amendement Bill 2014.

    Hon. Pōhiva said the Amendment Bills 2014 were submitted by the Tu’ivakanō government after the constitution was reviewed by a Commonwealth constitutional law expert, Peter Pursglove.

    As Kaniva News reported, Pursglove said that Tonga’s 2010 constitution did not uphold democracy, the Privy Council lacked any democratic composition or accountability and the judiciary lacked accountability and transparency.

    Hon. Pōhiva said when his government came to power in November 2014, the Tu’ivakanō government had left these amendement bills for them to complete working on them.

    He said they pursued some of these bills, including some that concerned the assignment of the Attorny General to the Privy Council, which Pursgrlove said was unconstitutional.

    In a response to a request by the Prime Minister’s office for an opinion on the legality of the Royal Assent Order 2011, Dr Harrison said it appeared there was a misconception that the king had the “power to grant or refuse the Royal Assent conferred by Clause 56 of the Constitution.”

    Dr Harrison recommended that the government try to get his majesty to alter his views on his powers  by “reasoned persuasion.” Seeking a judicial ruling is also an option.

    The government spokesperon said the Prime Minister wanted to talk to the king first as he wanted to make sure the constitution was correctly interpreted and followed through.

    He said the Prime Minister believed the king would consider Dr Harrison’s advices favourably.

    The Minister of Justice, Vuna Fa’otusia, said many of the amendments to laws and the constitution passed by Parliament were vetoed by His Majesty because of the judicial committee.

    The judicial committee comprised of some law lords and was chaired by Lord Dalgety of Scotland. The Minister said if the committee did not agree with laws and  amendments to the constitutions which were already passed by the Parliament the king would reject those laws.

    Dr Harrison said the Law Lords played no specific constitutional role and they did not have any constitutional function or role as scrutineers of legislation or the legislative process.

    Royal Assent 2011:

    56 Power of Legislative Assembly

    The King and the Legislative Assembly shall have power to enact laws, and the
    representatives of the nobles and the representatives of the people shall sit as one
    House. When the Legislative Assembly shall have agreed upon any Bill which has
    been read and voted for by a majority three times it shall be presented to the King
    for his sanction and after receiving his sanction and signature it shall become law
    upon publication. Votes shall be given by raising the hand or by standing up in
    division or by saying “Aye” or “No”

    For more information

    King’s judicial committee causes instability in the country, Justice Minister says

    Review and judgement of laws passed by Parliament not in king’s power, says lawyer

    1 COMMENT

    1. Fokotu’utu’u e pule’anga’ ke fai ha fakataufolofola ki he tu’i’ hili ‘eni ha fale’i fakalao ‘a ha mataotao Nu’u Sila ‘o pehē ‘oku ‘ikai ha totonu ‘a e tu’i’ ke ne toe fakamaau’i mo sivi pe ‘oku fe’unga ha lao kuo paasi ‘e he Fale Alea’ pe ‘ikai.

      Pehē ‘e he taha mei he pule’anga’ ko e fokotu’utu’u ko ‘eni’ ne fakahoko ia hili hono tali ‘e he kapineti’ e ngaahi fale’i ‘a e loea Nu’u Sila ko Dr Rodney Harrison. Na’e pehē foki ‘e Pōhiva ‘i ha faka’eke’eke mo e Kaniva’ na’e ‘i ai e ngaahi lao fakaangaanga na’e fa’u ‘o fakahū ‘e he pule’anga ki mu’a ‘o Looti Tu’ivakanoo’ pea tali ia ‘e he Fale Alea’.

      Kae fē hono ‘oatu ki he tu’i ke fakamo’oni huafa ai’ kuo ‘ikai ke ne tali ia ‘e ia. Ko e ngaahi lao ko ‘eni ne kau ai ‘a e Acts of Constitution of Tonga (Amendment Bill) 2014, Judicial and Legal Service Commission 2014, Tonga Police (Amendement Bill) 2014, National Spatial Planning and Management (Amendment Bill) 2014, Magistrate Court Amendment Bill 2014 and Public Service Amendement Bill 2014.

      Pehē ‘e Pōhiva ko e ngaahi lao’ ni ne fa’u ia ‘e he pule’anga ki mu’a’ hili hono līpooti ‘e he tangata mataotao he lao konisitūtone’ mei he Kominiueli’ e ngaahi tonounou he konisitūtone ‘a Tonga 2010.

      Pehē ‘e Pōhiva ko e taimi ne hū mai ai hono pule’anga’ ‘i Nōvema 2014 kuo ‘osi tuku ange ‘e he pule’anga ‘o Tu’ivakanoo’ e ngaahi lao fakaangaanga ko ‘eni ke nau hoko atu mo fakakakato ‘a e ngāue ki ai’. Na’a’ ne pehē ne nau hoko atu leva ‘a e ngāue ki heni’kau ki ai ‘a e feinga ke fakafoki mai ‘a e ‘Āteni Seniale’ mei he
      Fakataha Tokoni’ ki he Kapineti’. Pehē foki ‘e Pursglove ia ‘oku ta’efakakonisitūtone ‘a e ‘i he Fakataha Tokoni’ ia ‘a e ‘Āteni Seniale’.

      ‘Oku mahino mei he fale’i ‘a Dr Harrison ‘oku ‘ikai mo ha totonu fakalao ‘a e Kōmiti pe pēnolo Fale’i ‘a e Tu’i’ ke nau ke nau toe sivi ‘a e lao kuo paasi mai mei he Fale Alea’.
      Ko e pēnolo ‘eni ‘oku kau ki ai ha kau ‘Eiki Lao pea ‘oku sea ai ‘a Looti Talaketi. Na’e pehē foki ‘e Pursglove ia ‘oku ta’efakakonisitūtone hono fokotu’u ‘ona e kau law lords ke nau fai fale’i he ‘oku ikai ke nau tali ui kinautolu ki ha taha. Kuo tatau ‘ene fale’i mo e fale’i ‘a Dr Harrison.

      Na’e fale’i foki ‘e Dr Harrison ke mu’aki feinga e pule’anga’ ke fakataufolofola ki he tu’i ke liliu ‘ene fakakaukau ki hono mafai ke fakamo’oni ha lao kuo paasi mei Fale Alea ‘aki ha ngaahi faka’uhinga lelei ‘e ‘oatu ki ai. Pea ka ‘ikai pea toki vakai’i leva ha ki ha fakatonutonu fakalao ki ai.

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