6 Aug 2002

Fiji Ministers accused of hiding behind technicalities

7:22 pm on 6 August 2002

Fiji Government ministers are facing accusations of hiding behind technicalities to avoid answering legitimate Parlaimentary questions.

Radio Fiji reports it happened today when the Deputy Opposition Leader, Ofa Swann, asked for details of the pay and conditions of the chief executive of Air Pacific, John Campbell, and other senior staff.

The Attorney General, Qoriniasi Bale, said part of the question could not be answered because it would prejudice the arbitration process under way to resolve issues in dispute between the airline and its employees.

The Minister for Civil Aviation, Konisi Yabaki, said he could answer questions about Mr Campbell because his contract was confidential.

But Labour MP Pratap Chand accused the two ministers of trying to evade answering questions the answers to which were available to the public through a registered collective agreement.

Mr Chand, who is a trade unionist, said the answers would in no way affect the arbitration proceedings and the response of the two Ministers was totally untenable in Parliament.