Attorney-General Siromi Turaga today introduced a Bill to amend the i-Taukei Affairs (Amendment) 2023, seeking to amend and insert an establishing provision for the Great Council of Chiefs in the Act.
This includes reference to the Council in other provisions of the Act and the i-Taukei Trust Fund Act 2004 as applicable.
Speaking on his motion and moving the Bill under Standing Orders 51 (1) (2) (3), requesting Parliament consider the Bill without delay, Turaga said that the GCC was established under the i-Taukei Affairs 1944, under the Act, the Council consisted of such number of appointed, elected and nominated persons as the Governor-General prescribed by regulation with the primary function of submitting to the Governor-General such recommendations and proposals as it deemed to be for the benefit of the i-Taukei family.
Turaga said considered questions relating to the good governance and well-being of the i-Taukei people as the Governor-General or the Board would submit to the Council.
He said in 2012, however, the establishing provision of the Council (section3) was repealed through the i-Taukei Affairs (Amendment) Decree 2012 which also removed or amended various provisions under the Act that made reference to the Council.
“The i-Taukei Affairs (Amendment) Bill 2023 therefore seeks to amend the Act to insert an establishing provision for the GCC in the Act and to include reference to the Council in other provisions of the Act and the i-Taukei Trust Fund Act 2004 as applicable.”
The Attorney-General said if passed by Parliament, the amending legislation will come into force on a date or dates appointed by the Ministry.
He said Clause 3 of the Bill inserts sections 3 to the Act to provide for the constitution and primary function of the Council and Clause 4 of the Bill amends section 4(4) of the Act to require the i-Taukei Affairs Board to refer to the Council any question relating to the i-Taukei people that the Minister may submit to the Board.
Turaga said Clause 5 of the Bill amends Section 5 of the Act to empower the Minister to make regulations in relation to the Council.
Responding to the motion, Opposition MP Jone Usamate said that he is flabbergasted by the Government’s intention to move all its legislations through Order 51.
Usamate also labelled the move by Government as hypocrisy.
However, if the Bill is passed, the Act comes under the responsibility of the Minister Responsible for i-Taukei Affairs, Ifereimi Vasu.