Article on laws governing native land flawed – PM Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama speaking in Parliament. Picture: PARLIAMENT OF FIJI/FILE

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says an article on laws governing native land penned by renowned lawyer and former High Court judge Graham Leung in The Fiji Times on Thursday was “flawed”.

In the article, Mr Leung said “Generally, in making new laws, the Government does not need to consult anyone. But it should be noted that under section 11(1) of the Native Affairs Act 1944, it must through the Minister of Native Affairs, consult the Native Affairs Board in matters affecting land. So while the iTaukei Land Trust Act may not make specific reference of the need to consult on land matter, the consultation requirement is under the iTaukei Affairs Act.”

While speaking in support of the Bill, Mr Bainimarama said in the article, Mr Leung used section 11 of the iTaukei Affairs Act to argue that consultations should have been held with the iTaukei Affairs Board.

“However, his argument is flawed for a number of reasons,” the PM said.

He said firstly, section 11 only applied if the Bill appeared to the minister to impact on the rights and interests of the iTaukei.

“The next point to Bill 17 with respect to the removal of consent for mortgages is that the removal of consent does not in any way affect the rights or interests of the iTaukei landowners.

“The leased iTaukei land that is subject to mortgage will always remain iTaukei land and all terms and conditions of the lease remain intact.

“Secondly, section 11 does not apply to Bills which are so urgent that public interest does not permit consultation. “Bill 17 has been tabled as an urgent Bill in accordance with the Constitution and the Standing Orders.”

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