Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Current State Land Act lacks merit: AG

Attorney-General Siromi Turaga says due to challenges and difficulties faced as a result of amendments, the State Land (Amendment) Bill 2023 seeks to remove some of the amendments made in 2021 and 2022.

Speaking on his motion on the State Lands (Amendment) Bill, Turaga said it provides for the administration of State Land-In 2021 and Sections 13 of the Act was amended by the State Land Budget (Amendment) Act 2021 to remove the requirement of pinning consent from the Director of Lands for any mortgage, charge, pledge, caveat or for any such lease to be dealt with by any court of law or other process of any court of law.

Turaga said the 2021 Amendment Act also amended Section 13 of the Act to provide the consent of the Director and can only be refused when there is a breach of any lease condition or where such application to deal with the land is not in accordance with the law.

He said in 2022, Section 16 of the Act was amended by the State Land (Amendment) Act to empower the Director to re-enter land and cancel land lease, licence or approve any notice of lease in an instance where occupants of the land have as a result of dispossession land or due to political upheaval or cancellation or non-renewal of the leases or licenses resort to seek refuge on the land for which they were not lessees under the Act.

“In these instances, the lessees permitted such persons to use the land; it did not obtain the consent of the Director of Lands, making the arrangement unlawful under the Act. Therefore, the Director may re-enter land and cancel the lease, lessors who approve the notice of lease.”

The Attorney-General also said that pursuant to Standing Orders 51, the State Land (Amendment) Bill 2023 be considered by Parliament without delay; that the Bill be passed through one stage at a single sitting of Parliament; that the Bill must not be referred to a Standing Committee or other Committee of Parliament and that the Bill must be debated and voted upon by Parliament tomorrow.

Responding to the motion, Opposition MP Faiyaz Koya said: “I think the standard response to this is again the use of ‘Order 51’, I think enough has been said on it, but we do raise objection to it being used in Parliament time and time again without actual reason and without them showing the actual hurry as required with respect to these particular amendments.”

Koya said, in short, they do object to the use of Order 51.

However, Turaga said he had articulated the urgency of this matter – This is also consequential to the earlier Bill which now enact in relation to i-Taukei Land.

The motion will be debated tomorrow.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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