Ruling on Petitions in relation to Bill No. 17 of 2021


  1. Honourable Members, for your information, I had received 3 petitions from the Honourable Viliame Gavoka, Honourable Lynda Tabua and Honourable Jese Saukuru for the withdrawal of the iTaukei Land Trust (Budget Amendment) Bill 2021 that is currently before Parliament.
  2. Gavoka’s petition states “We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Fiji and the Prime Minister of Fiji to direct the Minister for Economy to withdraw Bill 17 of 2021 and end any further legislative process”.
  3. Tabuya’s petition states “We the undersigned hereby petition the Parliament of Fiji to stop the passing of this law which operates to erode the guardianship role of the iTLTB and reduces the power of the landowners to have their rights, interests and wishes protected by the iTLTB once the lease is issued”.

  4. The petition submitted by way of a letter from Honourable Saukuru also requests for the withdrawal of Bill No. 17 of 2021.
  5. Honourable Members, it is established law, under section 47 subsection 3 of the Fijian Constitution, that a Bill may proceed more quickly than permitted by the Standing Orders if when the Bill was introduced, the mover requested that Parliament approve consideration of the Bill without delay, and a majority of the Members of Parliament voted in support of the request. This constitutional provision is mirrored in Standing Orders 51 and 91.
  6. Therefore, on 16 July 2021 in accordance with Standing Order 51, Bill No. 17 of 2021 was tabled before Parliament as part of a list of Consequential Bills for the 2021-2022 National Budget. Parliament had agreed that all Consequential Bills for the 2021-2022 National Budget –
  • be considered by Parliament without delay;
  • must pass through one stage at a single sitting of Parliament;
  • must not be referred to a Standing Committee or other Committees of Parliament;
  • must be debated and voted upon by Parliament immediately after the vote on the 2021-2022 Appropriation Bill; and
  • that the time for the debate be limited to ensure that the Consequential Bills are debated and voted upon in the sitting of Parliament beginning on Monday, 26 July 2021.
  1. Since Parliament agreed that all Consequential Bills in relation to the 2021-2022 National Budget must follow the process I have just read out loud, I hereby rule that Members of Parliament cannot use the submission of a petition under Standing Order 37 to withdraw Bill No. 17 of 2021 from Parliament, and frustrate a process that has already been agreed to by Parliament. This will clearly be an abuse of parliamentary process.
  2. Honourable Members, the call for the Honourable Prime Minister and Parliament to direct the Honourable Attorney-General to withdraw or to stop the passing of Bill No. 17 of 2021 in the respective petitions, is wholly misconceived.
  3. Under Standing Order 90, it is the Member who is in charge of the Bill that may withdraw the Bill at any time before the third reading of the Bill, with the leave of Parliament.
  4. The Standing Orders do not provide for the Parliament or the Prime Minister to direct a Member of Parliament to withdraw a Bill that has been tabled by that Member of Parliament.
  5. The Standing Orders are clear and the only way to defeat a Bill is to vote against the Bill.
  6. I therefore rule that the respective petitions filed by the 3 Honourable Members of Parliament are out of order and will not be presented to Parliament. Any issues in relation to Bill No. 17 of 2021 must be raised and debated by Members of Parliament at the time of the scheduled debate.
  7. Honourable Members, I reiterate that you must not use the Standing Orders to frustrate the constitutional law-making mandate that is given to Parliament under the Fijian Constitution, by abusing the process of petitions under Standing Order 37. This is especially when Parliament has already agreed to a process for the consideration of a Bill.
  8. All Members are at liberty to make representations and fully debate any issues in relation to Bill No. 17 of 2021 when it is being debated in Parliament at the time allocated in the Order Paper.

Thank you Honourable Members.