New government policies make Nauru more insular
The Nauru Government survives a vote of no confidence and looks to introduce more controversial policies.
The Nauru Government survived a vote on a motion of no confidence this week after it controversially deported a magistrate and cancelled the visa of the chief justice.
The President of the Law Society called it illegal, while New Zealand said it would review its 2014 funding plan for Nauru.
In a move seen by many as cynical, the country recently hiked the cost of a journalist's visa from $200 to $8000 Australian and seems set to confirm a similar rise for business visas.
Alex Perrottet reports:
The President, Baron Waqa, defended the deportations and visa cancellations, alleging the expatriates in positions of power were engaging in cronyism and not acting in the best interests of the country. He says Nauru has the same right as Australia and other nations to decide who holds key positions and who is allowed to work in the country and the deportation orders were restoring order in the legal system after attacks on its sovereignty. But an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Auckland, Bill Hodge, says it appears the real cause was the magistrate, Peter Law, inquiring into the treatment of refugees.
BILL HODGE: That's what appeared to spark it, rather than some sort of protection for Europeans or some Australians or cronyism as he put it. So without some further evidence it still does not look like the appropriate exercise of the rule of law.
The Government also seems set to hike the cost of business visas from $400 to $6000 Australian dollars. The opposition MP for Boe Mathew Batsiua says business people are already being charged the new amount, but says there has been no due process, with the apparent decision not being gazetted.
MATHEW BATSIUA: This fee hasn't been properly introduced so in a sense it's unlawful. The government has begun to collect it. And so I think the government's got a lot to answer in that regard to make sure the fees they collect are supported by law and they can't just ignore due process.
Professor Hodge says it's highly likely the Government's new policy on visas is another way to keep not only journalists but other inquisitive eyes out of the country.
BILL HODGE: And that's quite clearly not why visas were put in place initially and I would say it's de facto a breach of the constitution - if you can't remove the chief judge, to prevent him from entering the country, it's very devious and it's really not worthy of a state in the south pacific that purports to uphold the rule of law.
After a heated debate in Parliament, where the no confidence motion went down 11 to 7, the speaker Ludwig Scotty, walked out. The MP Roland Kun had taken Mr Waqa to task for also cancelling the visa of his spouse - another expatriate. Mathew Batsiua says there is still a chance the Government may call a state of emergency, and he is convinced key figures in cabinet have canvassed the idea. But Professor Hodge says that will only further prove the rule of law is meaningless in Nauru.
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