Extraordinary session of Parliament called – but agenda shrouded in secrecy

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The big news today was carried by Radio Vanuatu, that Parliament is to meet on 21 November. This announcement was given as the usual service message from the Clerk and Speaker of Parliament and gave no details of the agenda of the extraordinary sitting. That said, MPs were told, that owing to communications and transport difficulties, they would not know what the business to be conducted during the extraordinary sitting will concern. They will only receive their packets of documents when they arrive in Port Vila.

For the Westminster democracy system to work properly, the people of Vanuatu need their representatives to be able to discuss any proposed legislation with their constituents, in their electorates, before they arrive in Parliament. It also brings up the question of the MPs constitutional rights to information. Since in recent times we have had to participate in the general discussion concerning electoral reforms and the introduction of income taxes, it behoves the state to set what we call here ‘the Awareness’ in motion at the earliest possible moment. Just saying the MPs papers can be found at the Clerk’s office when they arrive in town does not comply with the MPs’ and general public’s right to information. We will be hearing quite a lot more about rights to information (RTI) and it is to be hoped the next sitting will see the RTI Bill before Parliament, a policy already established.

The three day Agri-tourism festival is taking place at the Agriculture Station,Tagabe. Everyone is invited. It is felt that it presents opportunities for farmers to learn how to grow the most important menu items. Tourists will appreciate our organic food environment and farmers will harvest the market produce best suited to small bungalow accommodation in the islands. (Radio Vanuatu and Daily Post)

The former acting Police Commissioner John Taleo has won his appeal against charges related to a traffic accident. The matter was decided in the Magistrates’ Court. However, Justice Aru found the process flawed. (Daily Post)