8 Sep 2005

Calls for democracy not a priority says Tonga Cabinet Minister

6:46 pm on 8 September 2005

Tongan Cabinet Minister, the Honourable Akauola, says the government has more urgent concerns than the calls for democratic reform.

The government's been criticised for not addressing the issue of democracy following Tuesday's pro-democracy march and the presentation of a petition.

Parliament was called early and there was hope that the issue would be discussed.

That didn't happen and parliament has now been adjourned until the 19th September because of next week's Commonwealth Parliamentary workshops.

The government also wants time to look at cutting costs to fund recently introduced wage increases in the public sector which followed weeks of strike action.

Akauola says the government needs to get the wheels of the public sector rolling again, and calls for the Prime Minister and his cabinet to resign are premature.

"If this is the way that they're going to govern the country - everytime they don't like something then you call on this member... It's not just a question of ministers and the Prime Minister... they've called on individuals, people who are trying to do their jobs as chief executives of various ministries. If this is an indication of what democracy is all about I don't want to buy into that."

The Honourable Akauola.