8 Jan 2004

Fiji opposition condemns land ownership bill

11:21 am on 8 January 2004

Fiji government legislators are putting the final touches to a Bill which would see ownership of land and its resources and undersea resources go to indigenous Fijians.

The opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, says he could understand the move if native Fijians were landless in their own country.

But he says it's a fact that only 13 per cent of the country remains outside indigenous ownership.

"Eighty-seven per cent of all the land and the resources, are owned by Fijians. What we are talking about is, a government, here, instituting more avenues for taking what remains. This is got to be some kind of a political ploy - we're on a countdown for the next general election. And this is something that's going to be attractive to those who will stand to gain from this."

As for the sea and its resources, Mr Beddoes says the idea of this being owned by anyone is unthinkable.