Hon. Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Fiji
Hon. Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu was elected Speaker of the Fijian Parliament on 24 December 2022, following the first sitting of the new Parliament after the 2022 general election.
Hon. Ratu Lalabalavu was born on 23 December 1953. In 1999, he succeeded his father as Tui Cakau, traditional paramount chief of Cakaudrove and the Tovata Confederacy.
Hon. Ratu Lalabalavu is no stranger to Parliament having been successfully elected to Parliament in 5 general elections in 1999, 2001, 2006, 2014 and 2018.
Just prior to his election as Speaker, he was the Leader of the Opposition from December 2020. Hon. Ratu Lalabalavu was also a member of the Public Accounts Committee during the last term of Parliament.
Hon. Ratu Lalabalavu served as Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources following the 2001 general election and later as Minister for Fijian Affairs, Lands and Provincial Development after the 2006 general election.
Prior to joining politics, Hon. Ratu Lalabalavu had a long and distinguished career in native land affairs having started as a cadet land agent in the then Native Lands Trust Board (NLTB) in 1973. He was Acting Deputy General Manager and Chief Estate Officer in the NLTB from 1993 to 1994, and later served as the Board’s Divisional Estate Manager Northern from 1994 to 1998.
The Honourable Speaker Ratu Lalabalavu first entered the political arena when he stood as a candidate for the Soqosoqo Vakavulewa ni Taukei Party (SVT) in the 1999 general election. Hon. Ratu Lalabalavu succeeded in winning the Lau-Taveuni-Rotuma Open Constituency in the then House of Representatives, entering Parliament for the first time that year.
In the 2001 general election, Hon. Ratu Lalabalavu continued his career in Parliament winning the Cakaudrove East Fijian Communal seat in the House of Representatives under the banner of the Conservative Alliance Party. It was after this successful election that Hon. Ratu Lalabalavu became Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources.
Hon. Ratu Lalabalavu was again elected to Parliament in 2006 under the then Soqosoqo Duavatu ni Lewenivanua Party (SDL). He was given the portfolio of Minister for Fijians Affairs, Lands and Provincial Development until the SDL Government was deposed in the December 2006 coup.
Hon. Ratu Lalabalavu re-entered Parliament following the 2014 general election under the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) and was the Shadow Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources. He was re-elected at the 2018 general election and was a Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. He was then elected as Leader of the Opposition in December 2020.
The Honourable Speaker has pledged to make Parliament an effective arm of democracy. He has promised to work very closely with the Secretary-General to Parliament and her team to strengthen Parliament’s effectiveness and efficiency in carrying out its functions. He has also noted that he would like to have the Deputy Speaker more involved in the running of Parliament and in particular the chairing of sessions and debates.