Minister for Lands Filimoni Vosarogo confirms he still holds the portfolio and the Attorney General is Siromi Turaga, but maintains he will go where he is assigned by Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.
Rabuka is expected back into the country this weekend.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Vosarogo said that as the Prime Minister, Rabuka has the authority to reassign cabinet ministers, and they are expected to comply, even if it involves taking on the position of the Attorney General, as he was reassigned last week, despite concerns about the appointment’s legality.
“It’s a legal argument. But right now I think what we do is we wait for the PM to come back, and he will then make the call. And when he makes the call, that I stay, I will stay. And if he makes the call that I go, then I will go. I signed up for this when I signed up for the election, and I’d bleed for this country any day,” Vosarogo said.
“I was informed of this late Friday afternoon. I reiterate when you sign up for a cabinet position, you also sign up with the understanding that the PM can reassign your portfolio. If he does the reassignment, as a responsible minister in the cabinet, your job is to make sure that this is carried out.”
FijiLive had also asked on why he did not decline the appointment, given the concerns raised about his qualifications and as a legal professional, the Minister for Lands highlighted that the reassignment, in his view, is a matter within the Prime Minister’s purview.
Vosarogo said that accepting the position is a duty-bound obligation when it comes from the Leader of the Government, even if there are unresolved issues concerning its legality.
“This is a cabinet matter where the PM has made the reassignment and I view it differently.
If the PM does that, you’re duty-bound to take on the responsibility. Legality issues are yet to be resolved there. I am new in parliament, in cabinet; I don’t know of any precedent where a cabinet minister has been offered something and has turned it down. It may have happened, but I am not aware of it. But, like I said, all this is awaiting the PM when he gets back.”
In the same vein, Vosarogo acknowledged legal concerns and the importance of a functioning democracy, encouraging people who are dissatisfied with government decisions to use the courts.
“There are legal opinions, and of course, that constitutional provision has not been tested.
A lot of the 2013 constitution has not been tested. A litigious society is a very healthy democracy, when people aren’t happy with how things have turned out, the courts and the doors of the courts should be open for those issues to be litigated.
When that does happen, it shows that democracy is flourishing, and I think that is an aspect of national development that we have not seen in the reign of the past government.
That’s the thing that this government wants to encourage, if they are not happy with government decisions, there is the courts, and you should utilise it because we have a very independent judiciary.”
“It is what it is, but the good thing is that differences in views have a forum, an avenue where they can be heard, and the court doors are open. If the PM comes back and if his position remains the same then it may gravitate towards that, but if the PM comes back and says, ‘Fili, you remain where you are,’ that is where I will remain.”
Vosarogo says that while the 2013 Constitution has provisions for amendment, which is not a priority for the coalition government at the moment, focusing instead “on delivering the best because we made promises that we would deliver certain key aspects of our policies.”
The Prime Minister returns from his official visit of Australia today.