16 Dec 2004

Fiji Labour Party Senators criticise President of the Upper House

11:15 am on 16 December 2004

Five Fiji Labour Party senators have referred the conduct of the president of the Upper House, Taito Waqavakatoga, to the Senate privileges committee.

In their letter, the senators say Mr Waqavakatoga has failed to exercise proper and impartial control over proceedings in the Senate, and has effectively encouraged the unruly and unparliamentary behaviour of Senator Ratu George Cakobau.

The Labour senators say it was not the first time Mr Waqavakatoga had implicitly condoned such behaviour.

They also say Mr Waqavakatoga's ruling resulting in the premature ending of question time yesterday was biased and unfair.

Mr Waqavakatoga refused to rule on the conduct of senators and ended question time amid unruly scenes in the Upper House when Ratu George Cakobau said Senator Atu Emberson-Bain should not ask questions about native land.

He said this was because she was not an indigenous Fijian.

Senator Emberson-Bain said she was exercising her right as the matter was brought to her by landowners but she was ordered to sit down.