Rally planned to support suspended Nauru MPs
Suspended Nauru MP says there is growing public concern that the government lacks proper scrutiny.
A former Nauru justice minister, Mathew Batsiua, says a rally is being planned because of growing public anger at the lack of scrutiny on government activity.
For nearly a year there has been no effective opposition in the parliament with five of their seven MPs suspended.
Legal moves to resolve the matter have failed as Mr Batsiua, one of the shut out MPs, explained to Don Wiseman.
MATHEW BATSIUA: We took it to the Supreme Court and unfortunately for us the Supreme Court is of the view that the matter is for parliament to consider, so yeah, we seem to have hit a brick wall on that.
DON WISEMAN: So in terms of parliament considering this matter, there's been significant popular support for you particularly in your electorate, and a petition went to parliament for parliament to debate the matter. How did that go?
MB: There has been considerable support for myself from people in my constituency. And they called for a public meeting between myself and my colleague in my constituency, who was the president. Unfortunately the president didn't see fit to turn up for the public meeting. And then after the public meeting it was decided unanimously at that meeting that a petition should go to parliament. So signatures were gathered and the petition was submitted to parliament for parliament to consider re-instating myself. And it consisted of a lot of reasons, a lot of genuine reasons that the people thought that parliament should consider seriously and have me re-instated on those facts. But unfortunately when the matter went to parliament, parliament didn't take it seriously, members who were debating more or less attacked myself and didn't consider seriously the contents of the petition. So the petition of the people from my district was lost in the political games played by the government. So the petition was not supported and was thrown out.
DW: What do you hope might happen next?
MB: Well look I think the first thing's very clear. That is there's a lot of people who are fed up with the state of the parliament because they see parliament as being heavily one-sided. People are thirsty for the scrutiny of the government. There's a lot of concern around the place that government is just doing things without checks and balances. And that's what happens when you don't have an opposition, an effective opposition for 12 months. So people are crying out for parliament to restore members of the opposition, so we can have decent parliament sittings, where the activities of government, the policies of government are properly scrutinised by parliament. So people want to see opposition members back in parliament, debating policies, debating laws, and having a parliament operating normally as a democratic parliament.
DW: Now look I know there's a rally planned or being talked about, but the government has in the meantime changed the rules, I think directed mostly at the asylum seekers and the refugees, but it would impact on anyone else wanting to stage a protest, wouldn't it?
MB: Yes it would seem that way. I have been requesting a copy of the changes to the law but I haven't got a copy yet. But what we have heard is there have been changes to the laws regarding public assemblies or gatherings of people in public to protest, and we believe that there have been amendments whereby people who are planning to stage a public protest should apply for a permit and no protest can go ahead without that permit. This again illustrates that this government is not serious about being accountable, it's not serious about the rights of people to demonstrate or have peaceful protests on issues that concern them or problems that arise. They're stifling the rights of people and this is another example of that.
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