2 Dec 2005

Fiji Labour Party defeats government on land and constitution

10:26 am on 2 December 2005

The Fiji Labour Party has prevented two Bills from becoming law even though the government had a majority on both counts.

One Bill related to land lease laws and would have seen the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act replaced by the Native Lands Trust Act.

The second Bill dealt with amendments to the 1997 Constitution which had been agreed to by Labour during Talanoa talks earlier.

Fiji's land laws and the Constitution are entrenched legislation and require a two-thirds majority in parliament to be changed.

When Labour voted against the Bills the government's simple majority as not sufficient to give it the two-thirds support that was needed to enable the Bills to pass.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase has expressed extreme disappointment saying the greatest victims of Labour's position on land laws would be the poorest of the poor - rural Indian families with no land.

On the Constitution Amendment Bill, Mr Qarase said it was sad day that Labour had reneged on an earlier agreement to support the changes.