6 Jun 2006

Fiji government to table controversial bills soon

1:19 pm on 6 June 2006

The Fiji government is to re-introduce two controversial Bills early in the life of the new parliament.

They are the Reconciliation and Unity Bill which lapsed when parliament was dissolved early this year and the Qoliqoli Bill which will return all foreshore and traditional fishing grounds to their original indigenous owners.

Both Bills met fierce resistance last year.

But when opening the first session of the new parliament today, President Iloilo said the Reconciliation and Unity Bill would have revisions based on public submissions on it made last year.

President Iloilo also said the government would give high priority to a Bill setting up the Indigenous Claims Tribunal.

The Tribunal would enable indigenous owners to lay claims to lands which were alienated from them in pre-colonial and early colonial times.

As well, the president said the Defence White paper commissioned by the previous government would provide the basis for a review of the role of the military.

He said consultations will be held with the military.