Seven members of the nobility did not return to Parliament this morning after they walked out of it yesterday.
The Speaker, Lord Fakafanua, one of the nine noble representatives in the House returned this morning and reported his other colleagues’ absence.
The other noble MP who was present at the House was Lord Ma’afu, the Minister of Lands and Survey and His Majesty’s Armed Forces.
The Speaker said the nobles would not return unless Parliament agreed to a request by Lord Nuku to include meetings with the public in a consultation process the government is conducting on six new Bills and amendments to the constitution.
Despite the absence of the seven noble MPs, the House conducted business as normal today.
Three independent MPs who joined the nobles’ walk-out yesterday returned to the House this morning.
The government is conducting the public consultation by using a talk back show on Radio Tonga One and Radio FM 87.5.
Lord Nuku insisted that the people wanted to meet and talk with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice about the Bills.
As Kaniva Tonga news reported yesterday, Lord Fakafanua told the House that Parliament had no right to make any decision on how the government should conduct the consultation process.
He said it was up to the government to choose what type of consultation process it wanted to use to consult with people on the Bills.
The Prime Minister echoed the same statement in the House.
As we reported earlier, the walk-out was staged yesterday afternoon after the Chair of the Whole House Committee, Veivosa Taka, refused to bring the work of the committee into Parliament so that Lord Nuku’s motion could be tabled.
The Prime Minister told the House the Acting Attorney General was talking to the public over the phone answering questions about the Bills.
Kefu said on the Radio three of the Bills were special amendments to allow other three new Bills to be processed.
These were the:
Tonga Police Amendment) Bill 2019-03-12
Magistrate’s Court (Amendment) Bill 2019-03-12
National Spatial Planning and Management (Amendment) Bill 2019.
Allegations about king’s powers
Kefu said on the radio there was allegation that the Bills were meant to remove the king’s powers, but that was not true.
He said that under Tongan law, if the government wanted to remove any powers of the king, the process must seek the king’s consent.
He said one of the new Bills was intended only to replace the panel which elected the Supreme Court judges, Magistrates, Attorney General and Director of Prosecutors.
The government wanted to move that authority from the Privy Council’s
Judicial Appointments and Discipline Panel to the Law Commission.
The king maintained his power to appoint the Supreme Court Judges, Magistrates, Attorney General and the Public Prosecutor, Kefu said.
The new Bills are:
Constitution of Tonga Amendment Bill 2019.
Constitution of Tonga Amendment Bill 2019 No. 2.
Judicial and Legal Service Commission Bill 2019.
The main points
- Eight members of the nobility did not return to Parliament this morning after they walked out of it yesterday.
- The Speaker, Lord Fakafonua, one of the nine noble representatives in the House, was the only noble MP who returned this morning.
- Despite the absence of the eight Noble MPs, the House conducted business as normal today.
For more information
Noble and Independent MPs walk out, but work of Parliament continues as normal