Ruling by the Hon. Speaker on 4 June, 2021 on the Point of Order by the Hon. Attorney-General

Honourable Members, yesterday there was a point of order raised by the Hon. Attorney-General with respect to the breaching of Standing Order 29A by the Hon. Lynda Tabuya.

When the Hon. Attorney-General was done with his point of order, I also gave the floor to the Hon. Lynda Tabuya for her point of order. Having perused the uncorrected Hansard report for yesterday’s sitting, I can conclude that the Hon. Lynda Tabuya’s point of order does not require a ruling.

I will now give my ruling on the point of order raised by the Hon. Attorney-General.

Honourable Members, as you all aware, the order and decorum in Parliament must be maintained and upheld at all times. I have now duly perused the social media posts by the Hon. Lynda Tabuya and the time of the post and I am satisfied that it was made whilst the Parliament was in session last night. I am further satisfied that this did not take place during the Parliament break.

I have also taken the time to peruse Hon. Tabuya’s personal facebook account against her official SODELPA facebook account. There is a difference between the SODELPA facebook account and the personal facebook account. Similarly there is a difference between the official Fijian Government facebook account and the Hon. Attorney-General’s personal facebook account.

The Hon. Lynda Tabuya was wrong to say that her people posted the post in question – it was a post from her personal facebook account.

I have no reason to doubt that the Government’s social media team is posting on the Fijian Government’s official page and on the official accounts of cabinet members. Many of these postings are just shares of posts or videos posted on the Fijian Government page.

Whilst in Parliament, the Hon. Tabuya’s team can cover the Parliamentary debate but what is not permitted is for her team to be selectively commenting on her personal page. As I had alluded to earlier, the post was not on Hon. Tabuya’s official page but on her personal page.

Honourable Members, Standing Order 29A clause (2) clearly states that ‘A Member must not make any social media posting or media releases in relation to any Parliamentary business during the sitting of Parliament or any Parliamentary Committee.’

Honourable Members, the Hon. Lynda Tabuya has clearly breached Standing Order 29A clause (2) and this must not be permitted to go on.

Therefore, Hon. Tabuya is hereby publicly reprimanded for breaching Standing Order 29A(2). Hon. Tabuya, you are put on notice that any further repetition of the breach will result in more severe penalty, including suspension from Parliament under Standing Orders 75 and 76, as well as being cited for contempt of Parliament.

Let this be a caution to all Honourable Members of Parliament. Any breach of Standing Orders, including in particular, Standing Order 29A(2) will be subject to such disciplinary processes as prescribed under the Standing Orders and established Parliamentary practices and procedures.