Noble and Independent MPs walk out, but work of Parliament continues as normal

The nobles and three Independent MPs walked out of Parliament  this afternoon after the Chair of the Whole House Committee, Veivosa Taka, refused to bring the work of the committee into Parliament so that a motion by Lord Nuku could be tabled.

The walk-out failed to stop the work of the House as it still had a quorum and the session continued with 13 MPs including the Chair.

It is understood Lord Nuku insisted that the House should discuss how a public consultation on six new government Bills should be conducted.

However, Chairman Taka reiterated what Speaker Lord Fakafanua told the House on March 6, that the Parliament had no right to make any decision on how the government should conduct the consultation process.

“These laws belong to the government. The Minister of Justice said they would work on a public consultation process. That is not work to be done by the Parliament. And it is not part of the Law Committee’s guidelines,” Lord Fakafanua told the House in Tongan.

However, Lord Nuku warned Chairman Taka after the House returned from a break at 3pm that if he did not agree with his request, he and his noble colleagues would walk out.

The nine noble MPs were joined by Independent MPs Samiu Vaipulu of Vava’u 15, MP Tevita Lavemaau of ‘Eua 11 and MP Siaosi Sovaleni of Tongatapu 3.

As Kaniva news reported earlier today, a heated debate erupted in the House before the MPs left.

The government submitted six Bills to Parliament which were labelled urgent by Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva. Hon. Pohiva withdrew the Bills last week, apparently so the public could be consultd on them.

The government conducted a radio talk back show this week as part of the public consultation process.

Lord Fusitu’a asked the Prime Minister in the House whether these Bills had anything to do with the power of the king and Hon. Pohiva agreed that they did.

The Prime Minister told Lord Fusitu’a the constitution allowed them to submit these Bills.

It is understood that the Acting Attorney General ‘Aminisiasi Kefu told a talk back show yesterday there was nothing in the Bills which suggest removing any powers of the king.

The Acting Attorney General was responding to questions from the public during the show about whether the new Bills and amendments to the constitution were meant to remove the kings’ power.

The main points

  • The nobles and three Independent MPs walk out of Parliament  this afternoon after the Chair of the Whole House Committee, Veivosa Taka, refused to bring the work of the committee into Parliament so that a motion by Lord Nuku could be tabled.
  • The walk-out failed to stop the work of the House as it still had a quorum and the session continued with 13 MPs including the Chair.

For more information

Noble and Independent MPs walk out of Parliament, reports say

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