Tu’ilakepa’s appointment as Acting Speaker may have been unconstitutional, the
Police Minister has claimed.
Hon. Tapueluelu told Television Tonga the government had been told by its legal advisor in New Zealand that according to the Constitution clause 61, an acting speaker could only assume the position if the Speaker had resigned, died or been sacked.
Clause 61 (4) says: ” The King shall appoint a Speaker within 7 days of the occurrence of a vacancy.”
Lord Tu’ilakepa was Acting Speaker of the House while the Lord Speaker Fakafanua was travelling overseas.
However, the Speaker could not be replaced if he was traveling overseas, Hon. Tapueluelu said.
In his role as Acting Speaker, Lord Tu’ilakepa blocked six new Bills the government submitted in March and which it wanted dealt with urgently.
Hon. Tapueluelu has confirmed the government would impeach and also take court action against the king’s noble
Minister was responding after he was questioned by the Television on the
government’s position during a second public consultation on its new Bills.
Tapueluelu said Parliament’s rule book and its clauses about the urgency of the
laws was simple enough to be interpreted, but he thought there was something
else behind the Opposition’s attack on the Bills.
“Ko e ‘uhinga pe ia ‘oku ha’u kiate au he anga ‘eku faka’uhinga atu mate ni’ihi ko ‘eni he ilifia he lao fo’ou,” he said in Tongan.
translates into English as: “The only reason that comes to me in the way how I
think about it was that these people were really scared of the new Bills.”
As Kaniva news
reported earlier, Hon. Tapueluelu said the government’s lawyer has advised that
the Parliament’s law book must be “clear cut.”
Lord Tu’ilakepa’s controversial decision
In March the government submitted to the House the Bills which
were due to be returned to Parliament after they had been discussed in a
two-week public consultation.
The government submitted the Bills under the law of urgency
according to the law clause 131 which says:
“The Legislative Assembly shall not proceed upon a Bill after its
first reading for a period of two weeks or such longer time that the Assembly
decides is needed to allow members to scrutinise the Bill, and for the public
to make submissions, but this shall not apply to –
(a) Appropriation Bills; and
(b) Bills certified by the Prime Minister to be urgent.”
However, Lord Tu’ilakepa, disregarded the way in which the
government benches interpreted clause 131, which requires the Prime Minister to
certify the urgency of the Bills.
The Acting Speaker said that when the Prime Minister
certified that the six new Bills were urgent, he should have also explained why
were they urgent.
The government disputed this, saying the law did not require the
Prime Minister to give the reasons why the Bills were urgent.
Lord Tu’ilakepa then used Clause 31 of Parliamentary rules to
justify his interpretation and ordered the government’s new Bills be passed to
the Parliament’s Standing Committee, from which they were later taken for more
The main points
- Lord Tu’ilakepa’s appointment as Acting Speaker
may have been unconstitutional, the Police Minister has claimed.
- In his role as Acting Speaker, Lord Tu’ilakepa
blocked six new Bills the government submitted in March and which it wanted
dealt with urgently.
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