6 Nov 2003

Fiji union questions attorney-general's role in Pafco debate

4:07 pm on 6 November 2003

The trade union representing workers at Fiji's state-owned tuna cannery has questioned the attorney general, Qoroniasi Bale's ethics in the controversial Senate debate about the plight of the cannery's mainly indigenous women workers.

The general secretary of the Pacific Fishing Company Employees Union, Tomasi Tokalauvere, says while Mr Bale was making accusations against Labor senator, Dr Atu Emberson-Bain, he did not declare his interest in the matter.

Mr Tokalauvere says the attorney general's law firm Q Bale & Associates, has been representing the cannery management in arbitration proceedings brought by the union.

He says during his speech in the senate, Mr Bale was guilty of a conflict of interest which he did not declare.

As well, Mr Tokalauvere accused Mr Bale of being a plagiarist because his speech contained promotional material recently put out by the cannery during the opening of a new plant.

Mr Tokalauvere is questioning why the Fiji Law Society has restored Mr Bale's licence to practice when he was disbarred for misuse of trust funds.

On attacks by Senator Ratu George Cakobau that Senator Emberson-Bain should not speak on matters affecting indigenous Fijians because she was not indigenous, Mr Tokalauvere says by allowing this the senate president was giving tacit approval to found an apartheid colony.